With the Atlanta Falcons letting Asanta Samuel go, it’s expected that the veteran cornerback will find a home pretty soon if he doesn’t ask for too much money or years on his next contract, with the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers & New Orleans Saints all real possibilities for his next team.
Samuel, 33, was a $4.5 million cap hit if the Falcons kept him on for another season, which simply wasn’t going to happen after a very weak year for him (it was for almost everyone on the team), probably his worst since his rookie season. He’s been in the NFL for 11 seasons, and has been on the decline over the last four seasons, although this year was the one that made it quite clear he doesn’t have too much in the tank.
However, for teams looking to add solid backups in their goals to go far next season in the playoffs, Samuel is an experienced asset to have, who can fill in for injured players without having teams worrying too much. His speed and leap aren’t what they used to be (only one interception this season) but as long as he comes for a minimum deal, it’s better to have him than an inexperienced corner or safety on a team that’s trying to win a Super Bowl.
Out of all potential playoff teams next season with issues in their secondary or at least when it comes to depth, the Carolina Panthers look like a team that might be a good fit, if only for the presence of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, who was on the sidelines all through Samuel’s tenure in Philly in several coaching positions.
There are also other options: The New England Patriots, a team Samuel won two Super Bowls with, are an option to try and bring back the veteran although the bad blood left from his departure might get in the way. Both the 49ers and the Saints had some issues in their secondary this season, and adding a piece that would at least give them some insurance is a goal for both teams in this offseason, and Samuel might be a better pickup than most.