ATLANTA — A person familiar with the deal says the Falcons have acquired four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday afternoon because the deal has not been announced.
The trade was made after Samuel agreed to restructure his contract to a three-year, $18.5 million deal with Atlanta. His current contract with Philadelphia calls for him to earn $9.9 million in 2012 and $11.4 million in 2013.
Atlanta is expected to send a draft pick to Philadelphia.
The 31-year-old Samuel gives Atlanta a strong trio at cornerback with Dunta Robinson and Northeast High school priduct Brent Grimes under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Grimes signed his franchise tag tender on Tuesday. Grimes will make $10.262 million this season.
The Falcons have six picks, but no first-round selection in the NFL draft.
Samuel became expendable when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha and acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last July, giving them three Pro Bowl cornerbacks. But the team couldn't find a suitable deal for Samuel, so they kept him and used Rodgers-Cromartie in the nickel spot.
While Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in a new defense and new roles, Samuel was the most consistent of the trio. The outspoken Samuel probably sealed his fate in Philadelphia when he criticized the front office at the trade deadline, saying management was "playing fantasy football with the owner's money."
Samuel has 45 career interceptions in nine seasons. He had three interceptions in 14 games last season. -- (AP)
When Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes the big trip back to face his old team, the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, he will be taking a 2-0 record with him. In fact, the Cardinals are also undefeated after two games.
The Eagles are coming off an exciting 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals upset the New England Patriots, 20-18, in Foxborough, Mass.
This game also has an interesting twist. In 2011, Rodgers-Cromartie was traded to the Eagles along with a second round pick for quarterback Kevin Kolb, who may start again for the Cardinals if opening day starter John Skelton is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks in week one.
Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t get a chance to show much last year. He had 36 total and 27 solo tackles and no interceptions. He spent a good portion of the season playing inside as part of the Eagles’ nickel page, mostly due to the outside presence of since traded cornerback Asante Samuel. But Rodgers-Cromartie is playing some great football right now and already has two interceptions and two solo tackles this season.
“I feel real good especially to be 2-0 and get them in front of your home crowd,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of the Eagles win against the Ravens. “You got to love it. I just look to build from there. I would just say as a team and as a unit we put the time in and they finally allowed me to go back to where I was. They got me feeling comfortable and allowing me to play fast.”
Rodgers-Cromartie, a 6-foot-2, 182-pounder, has certainly been one of the Eagles biggest bright spots on defense, but he’s not the only standout. DeMeco Ryans, Eagles middle linebacker, has been a real defensive stalwart.
“DeMeco is a great man,” he said. “You can see that in stopping the run and playing the pass. He got an interception. He’s a dominating linebacker. Then, you got Nnamdi (Asomugha) coming over. You’re not going to take balls his way. He can take down a whole side of the field. Our defensive line is fierce. They’re fast off the ball. The quarterback knows if he holds the ball too long he’s going to be sacked. Then, we got Brandon Boykin (rookie) coming in making plays. I think that’s big for him as a rookie coming in and taking over for (Joselio) Hanson and doing a good job.”
Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. In 2009, he was named to the Pro Bowl after hauling in six interceptions and forcing three fumbles that year. He played a big role in the Cardinals’ success. He helped Arizona to a 32-25 win over the Eagles in the NFC championship game that season. In addition, he played in Super Bowl XLIII, losing a close one to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-23. He’s looking forward to returning to Arizona and competing against his former team.
“It’s going to be good just to see some old friends and some of the guys,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to get back out there. But I have to understand I’m going out there to play a ball game. I can’t get too caught up into it.”
Rodgers-Cromartie was a terrific player at Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Fla. He was an all-area selection as a defensive back and wide receiver.
He played his college football at Tennessee State where he was one of the top players in the country. The former Ohio Valley Conference star was the 16th player selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. Rodgers-Cromartie was the first Tennessee State player chosen in the first round in since 1974 when defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys, first overall) and linebacker Wayman Bryant (Chicago Bears, fourth overall) were selected.
So far, it’s been a big year for Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles and Tennessee State. He’s been keeping up with the Tigers.
“Big Blue is off to a 3-0 start right now,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “We beat Jackson State, FAMU (Florida A&M) and Austin Peay. I’m very proud of them. Rod Reed (Tennessee State head coach) has the program turned around. They’re doing real good. So, shout out to Big Blue.”
PHILADELPHIA — Four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel missed a second consecutive practice Thursday with a hamstring injury.
Samuel is in danger of missing the Eagles' game against the Cowboys on Saturday, a game the Eagles could need to win to keep alive their slim playoff hopes.
If the Jets beat the Giants in an early game Saturday, Philadelphia would stay alive in the division race with a win in Dallas.
Samuel hurt his hamstring in the Eagles-Jets game last Sunday, and coach Andy Reid said Samuel aggravated it at practice Tuesday. He hasn't practiced since.
"Asante is still a little sore, and we'll just see how he does here over the next couple days," Reid said. "He jogged a little bit (Tuesday) and got sore ... so we just backed off him. We're trying to rehab it and see how it goes from there."
Samuel has three interceptions this year and 45 in his career, fourth among active players.
Reid said Samuel is experienced enough that he'd be able to play Saturday without practicing, as long as his hamstring is healthy.
"He knows what we're doing, it's just a matter of getting the soreness out of there to where he feels comfortable," he said. "Nobody wants to play more than he does, so you know he's going to do everything possible to get himself ready to go."
Reid said if Samuel is unable to play Saturday, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would start at left cornerback opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.
Rodgers-Cromartie, a Pro Bowl cornerback with the Cardinals, made his only start as an Eagle against the Bills in October, when the Eagles opened in a three-cornerback alignment.
Like Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie is in his first year in Philly and has gradually grown more comfortable playing a new role with a new team.
Rodgers-Cromartie missed three games with a high ankle sprain before returning for the Eagles' wins the last two weeks over the Dolphins and Jets.
"He was a good player before he came here this year, so that was never in question," Asomugha said. "But like everything else, learning this new system, it wasn't going to be a quick turnaround for him, I think.
"And when you come back from injury, then the confidence has to play a part and you have to start getting that back and be sure of yourself. And we're starting to see that a lot more from him, that he's putting the injury behind him and he's playing better through it."
The Eagles (6-8) will win the NFC East with victories over the Cowboys and Redskins combined with a Giants loss to the Jets on Saturday and a Giants win over the Cowboys on Jan. 1.
A win over the Cowboys would give them their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Reid said that recent injuries to all three of the Eagles' Pro Bowl cornerbacks demonstrate why he believed it was important to take the unusual step of carrying all three this year.
"It's tough for those guys to get through the season, at least the history of it has been that way here," Reid said. "That position (and) your D-line, you can't have enough of those guys, and we're fortunate to have the guys we have at that spot."
Defensive tackle Trevor Laws was the only other Eagle who wasn't a full participant at practice. Laws, who has knee tendinitis, was limited. -- (AP)