Squeeze to fit Asante Samuel under cap

It’s been widely reported Wednesday morning the Atlanta Falcons are on the verge of completing a trade with Philadelphia for cornerback Asante Samuel.

I don’t think there’s much debate as to what the compensation for the Eagles will be. It’s been made pretty clear, they’ll settle for a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick. That’s a pretty simple deal, but there’s another layer that’s much more complicated. The Falcons have to get Samuel to restructure his existing contract and it’s unlikely they’ll add more years onto the contract of a 31-year-old cornerback.

The Falcons currently are $1.7 million under the salary cap. Samuel’s current deal would carry a $10 million cap figure for the Falcons (the Eagles would take a $2 million hit for the remaining pro-rated portion of the bonus they gave Samuel.

Samuel is currently scheduled to earn $9.9 million in base salary and $100,000 workout bonus. He also can earn a $150,000 incentive if he leads the league in interceptions. His current deal calls for him to make $11.4 million in base salary in 2013 and he also has a $100,000 workout bonus. Samuel also can earn a $150,000 bonus in 2013 if he leads the league in interceptions. He also can earn up to $2.5 million in escalators.

If the Falcons are going to pull this deal off, they’ve got to knock Samuel’s cap figure for this year down significantly. I don’t see any way they can work it to get his figure down to $1.7 or below. They may have to release players or restructure contracts to make room for Samuel. I think they can make that happen if they get his cap figure for this year down to somewhere around $5 million to $6 million.

That may include Samuel taking a big cut in base salary and receiving a decent signing bonus that would be spread out over this year and 2013. It also would likely set up Samuel to be just a one-year player for the Falcons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s a guy that can come in and give the Falcons three quality cornerbacks (they already have Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson). The Falcons are clearly in a win-now mode. Samuel is a guy that, for one year, can help them win.