The Eagles' Asante Samuel dilemma

With 17 days left until the draft, the Philadelphia Eagles do have one fairly large remaining piece of in-house business to take care of. That would be veteran cornerback Asante Samuel, a very good player who might be worth more to the Eagles as a pre-draft (or during-draft) trade chip than as a 2012 cornerback.

As Ashley Fox writes in her offseason notes column, the Eagles could be looking to deal Samuel to rid themselves of a potential "headache":

Samuel is a terrific player, but Philadelphia has two other good cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Samuel wasn't happy about the Eagles' acquisition of Rodgers-Cromartie last season, and when trade rumors persisted last year, he said that the front office was playing fantasy football with owner Jeffrey Lurie's money.

After a disastrous 2011 season, the Eagles are going to be all about limiting distractions and building team unity in 2012. They can't do that with an unhappy Samuel.

I think the Eagles will be able to get something of value in return for Samuel. As he pointed out during an Easter Sunday twitter rant, Samuel is still a top cornerback, and those are rare and coveted in today's pass-happy NFL. The Eagles would be moving him (as opposed to Rodgers-Cromartie) because of his contract and his outspokenness regarding what he believes is the team's lack of respect for his ability to help them win games.

Dallas Cowboys fans often ask whether their team could be in the mix for Samuel, and while I was told by a few people at the owners meetings that the Eagles wouldn't be opposed to dealing Samuel to another NFC East team if the price were right, I find it hard to believe they'd want to play against him twice a year. My belief is that Dallas (or Washington, or the Giants, if they wanted him) would have to pay more to get Samuel than would another team outside the division.

As for what the Eagles can get ... I don't know. I'd have to believe if they'd been offered anything better than a fourth-round pick, they'd have already jumped on it. That's why I wonder if maybe this is the kind of deal that happens during the draft, after a team or two that thought it could fix its cornerback need with a draft pick has failed to do so and is willing to part with a mid-round pick in order to do it.

I don't see, to answer a lot of people's questions, a scenario in which they pair Samuel with their first-round pick (No. 15 overall) and move up higher in the first round. They don't need to make a deal like that, first of all, and second of all if a team is dealing out of the top five, it's likely doing so in order to stock up on future picks, not in exchange for a veteran cornerback. Other teams know the Eagles' reasons for wanting to deal Samuel, so they're not likely to get a premium price for him. But I do think, in the end, they get something that makes it worth their while. Especially if, as Ashley suggests, their main motivation is to avoid a headache.