Free Agent to Watch: CB Asante Samuel

With the NFL’s free agency period beginning on the 29th of this month, it’s time to start looking at some potential free agents the Browns can pursue. The Browns have an enormous amount of cap space (about $30 million) and, judging by the shrewd moves that took place last season, it seems like Phil Savage will once again be active in pursuing help in free agency. Last season, the offensive line was vastly improved with the signings of left guard Eric Steinbach and center Hank Fraley. The obvious hole that must now be filled is the defense.

There is potential help out there, but it won’t be easy signing someone like Asante Samuel. As arguably the best cornerback in the game, he will be one of the most sought-after free agents. However, the Browns should be able to match any offer that isn’t completely outrageous or deeply rooted in someone’s desperate fantasy land. A great deal of consideration must be given to Samuel no matter the cost as he would automatically improve the defense. At the very least, the image of the Browns’ defense would completely shift and opponents would have to begin showing them some sort of respect.

It does not look like the New England Patriots are going to sign Samuel to an extension, as they are more willing to simply let him walk away. There is no doubt that he is going to command big dollars, but he is a corner capable of shutting down every big receiver in the game. In addition to keeping the best receivers at bay, he maintains impressive interception numbers. In 2006, Samuel had 10 interceptions to go along with 6 (the same as Leigh Bodden) in 2007. For his career, Samuel has recorded 22 interceptions, making him, above all else, feared by all quarterbacks. Putting the thought of Asante Samuel in the back of the mind of a quarterback can go a long way before a ball is even thrown.

I wouldn’t say that the corner position is the most glaring need on the Browns’ defense, but Samuel is too talented to simply ignore. The thought of pursuing him has to at least be entertained because the impact he would make would be beyond the dreams of just about every Cleveland fan. What happens to Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis will play a role in who the Browns go after in free agency, and if Anderson leaves (it looks like more and more rumors have the Minnesota Vikings going after him), the thought of Samuel in an orange helmet could be closer to reality than one might think.

Asante Samuel knows how to win and knows what it takes to shut down the best receivers in the game. His talent would be much appreciated and welcomed on the Browns no matter the cost.

Asante Samuel’s stats: NFL.com

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Tags: Asante Samuel Cleveland Browns Cornerback Defense Derek Anderson Eric Steinbach Free Agent Hank Fraley Interception Jamal Lewis Leigh Bodden New England Patriots NFL Offensive Line Phil Savage Salary Cap Wide Receiver

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