Asante Samuel is becoming a Bird of another feather and the Eagles are getting much to show for it besides some financial flexibility.
After a day or so of rumors, Samuel was indeed dealt to Atlanta for a seventh-round draft pick (No. 229 overall) in this week's NFL Draft, the Eagles announced just before 5 p.m. Wednesday.
"Asante Samuel deal done w/ Atlanta," tweeted NBC10's Howard Eskin just after 2 p.m Wednesday. "Asante works out new 3-yr deal. As I said yesterday Samuel to Falcons was 'Stone Cold Mortal Lock.'"
And CSNPhilly.com reported the deal was "imminent" later in the afternoon.
Earlier, NFL.com reported that Samuel agreed to a restructured three-year, $18.5 million contract with the Falcons.
Asante, as fans called him, was a controversial ball-hawk in his four seasons with the Eagles. He led the league with nine interceptions in 2009 and had two interception returns for a touchdown while with the Eagles but he caught heat from fans for a perceived lack of toughness when it came to things like tackling.
Despite his detractors, Asante still earned three Pro Bowl selections while with the Birds and remained a top-tier coverage corner until last off-season when the Eagles crowded the defensive backfield with fellow Pro Bowl corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. Asante seemingly was unhappy with his role as part of a three-headed monster and he spoke out about allegedly being dangled as trade bait early in the 2011 season.
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Despite possible bad blood, Asante was likely dealt in a money-cutting measure. He was due $9.9 million this season and $11.4 million next season, reported ESPN.com.
Asante had to restructure his deal to fit into an Atlanta defensive back corps that already includes hard-hitting Dunta Robinson and $10-million man Brent Grimes.
Despite giving up on Asante, this move doesn’t mean the Eagles are looking more towards the future rather than being in “win now mode.” The extra money (and at times headache) they saved by dumping Asante gives them flexibility to extend contract extensions to guys like LeSean McCoy while still having some extra dough to pick up a free-agent or two during training camp.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid had this to say about Asante's time in Philly:
"We wish Asante Samuel all the best as he heads into the next chapter of his career in Atlanta. He has been a very productive member of the Eagles for the past four years and we appreciate all that he has done for our organization."
And Big Red gave his remaining star D-backs a vote of confidence:
"We obviously feel good about our cornerback situation moving forward with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as our starters. Those two played very well together in the latter part of the season and we anticipate that will continue as we head into the 2012 season."
And at least this deal now got the Eagles a seventh-round pick in the draft to give them 10 total picks.