Yesterday, the Patriots [team stats] and Asante Samuel [stats] narrowed their options once again in what have been contentious contract talks.
At 4 p.m., the deadline for teams and franchise players to strike long-term deals came and went with the sides remaining far apart in both money and terms. According to a source, the Patriots have stuck to their offer on what they believe Samuelís value to be, and that has weighed down discussions as it became more apparent that progress was not being made.
In addition, other teamsí willingness to pay significantly more than the Patriots, or at least say they would if he were on the open market, worked to validate a belief from Samuelís side that heís worth the price of an elite corner. That put the asking price at $30 million over the first three years of a deal.
The teamís unwillingness to approach that money caused the cornerís camp to spark trade talks. But the Patriots remained resolute in avoiding such a scenario, which meant other teams would have had to sign Samuel to an offer sheet, and surrender two first-round picks to the Pats.
With the deadline passing, in a way, it should simplify any efforts to get Samuel in the fold for training camp, which opens in 10 days. Samuel is free to sign the one-year, $7.79 million tender, something a source told the Herald he was strongly considering but had been adamant in avoiding.
So now, there are five ways this situation could go:
Samuel signs the tender.
The closer we get to the regular season, the stronger the challenge will be to Samuelís resolve. Samuel barely earned $2 million in his first four years in the league and now has nearly four times that sitting on the table.
Samuel can sign the tender and reap all $7.79 million as long as he reports before the Sept. 11 opener against the Jets. After that, the money becomes pro-rated.
Samuel is traded.
The hitch is that a franchise player can, in fact, get a long-term contract, just not from the team that tagged him. That would seem to strengthen Samuelís desire to force a trade, since there are 31 places where he is allowed to be paid the money he wants and one, Foxboro, where he is not.
The trouble is throughout the process, the Patriots have remained steadfast in refusing to deal their disgruntled corner. And theyíre probably correct in thinking it would set a bad precedent just one year after Deion Branch shoved his way out of town.
Neither side wants this at all. Samuel would rather get his money, and the team would rather he sign the one-year tender. This circumstance now sits squarely in between those two options, with the Patriots no longer able to fulfill their franchise playerís desires.
Once the season starts, there is but one date that carries heavy significance in these dealings - Nov. 11. Thatís Week 10 of the NFL season. Samuel needs to show up at that point to get an accrued season toward his pension and benefits.
Samuelís tag is removed.
You can bet that Samuelís camp would do cartwheels if this happened, but it makes very little sense from the teamís standpoint, given that the roster has question marks at the position and Samuel is a valuable commodity.
Samuel gets an offer sheet.
Just as unlikely as the tag being torn off, maybe even moreso. Teams just arenít willing to fork over two first-rounders in most circumstances. It wonít happen for Bears linebacker Lance Briggs or Samuel or 99 percent of others pinned with the franchise tag.
Source: Albert Breer, Boston Herald