Carolina Panthers: Should the Team Trade for Asante Samuel?

Tyler HornerCorrespondent IIMarch 25, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 25:  Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates his interception in the first half against the Cleveland Browns during their pre season game on August 25, 2011 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With reports now coming out that the Eagles are shopping cornerback Asante Samuel, it appears that the Panthers could have a solution to their issue of finding a capable starting corner opposite Chris Gamble. 

Over the past few seasons, the team has tried Captain Munnerlyn, Darius Butler and Brandon Hogan, among others, but none have consistently showed the ability to maintain the starting spot. 

Samuel has been upset with the Philadelphia organization ever since they traded for Arizona's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last year. The newly acquired cornerback appeared to be a threat to his starting position and played well when Samuel missed the final two games of the 2011 season. 

A trade seemed likely all season, but all deals fell through, putting the Eagles back in the same situation they started in; having a disgruntled, 31-year-old cornerback who's set to make nearly $9.5 million in 2012. 

Although that number could seem particularly discouraging to a team low on cap room like the Panthers, they could make the deal work by restructuring. Samuel only has two years left on his six-year $59.5 million contract, but considering his age, he would be wise to sacrifice some money over those next two seasons if it results in an extension and a guaranteed starting spot—which the Panthers can offer. 

The deal seems to work on Samuel's side, but there remains some uncertainty of how willing the Panthers organization will be to get this deal done. Trading for the cornerback will give the Panthers two corners who are arguably among the top ten at their position. However, there is some downside. 

Even if Samuel takes a pay cut over the next two seasons, the Panthers will still be in cap trouble. They will cut it close after signing their rookies and will likely have to restructure the contracts of veterans like tackle Jordan Gross, running back DeAngelo Williams and the aforementioned Gamble if they want to pull of this deal. 

What could motivate the Panthers to complete this trade regardless of the risk against the cap is Samuel's playmaking ability and versatility, which would immediately improve the team's sub-par defense. Samuel has been one of the elite corners in the league, in terms of forcing turnovers, and his skills in both man and zone coverage makes him an ideal fit for Carolina's defense. 

He could also be had for relatively little considering his high cap number and age. The popular feeling is that two early day three picks could get the deal done—a price the Panthers should be willing to pay. 

The trade would be a big-time answer to the moves being made by division rivals New Orleans and Tampa Bay and catapult the Panthers into the race for the division title in 2012.