The trouble with an Asante Samuel trade

There is a report from the Denver Post that the Broncos are interested in Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel but haven't been able to strike a deal. And within Mike Klis' report is a key detail that helps answer the many questions I'm getting that go something like, "Why can't they get more than a fifth-round pick for Samuel?"

Samuel has two years left on his contract — $10 million, counting a $100,000 offseason workout bonus this season, and $11.5 million, counting the $100,000 workout bonus in 2013.

None of that money is guaranteed, so the expectation is Samuel would have to alter his contract for a trade to be done.

And there's the problem. Sure, if Samuel were 25 years old and signed to a reasonable contract, the Eagles could get a lot more for him than a fourth-round pick or a fifth-round pick. But if those things were true, they wouldn't be trying to trade him. The reasons the Eagles are trying to get rid of Samuel are the same reasons teams aren't lining up to trade good players and/or high picks in return.

Samuel is a very good cornerback and likely to help whatever team he's on in 2012. Teams that need cornerback help would happily give up something of value to get a corner of Samuel's ability. But to give up something of value and pay him what he's got left on his contract is a much tougher commitment to make. And that's why the Eagles aren't likely to get much in return when and if they deal Samuel between now and the end of the draft.

That's also what gives Samuel a little bit of leverage over whether he gets dealt or even where he ends up. If he lets it be known that he's willing to restructure his deal, he'll be more attractive to teams. But the trick is to find a way to let an interested team know that without risking a violation of tampering rules by said team. The Eagles could technically go to Samuel said say, "We have a deal to send you to Team X, but they want you to restructure. Will you do it so we can make the trade?" And he could technically tell them to pound sand, in which case they'd have to take less to trade him. But Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month that Samuel would be willing to restructure if dealt.

The Eagles can wait. With six days left until the draft and teams obviously interested in the player, they have no reason to jump if they're not getting a deal they consider worth it. In the end, though, I believe they'll end up taking whatever the best deal ends up being, and leaving Samuel's contract as some other team's problem.