EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

June 28, 2007

Advice for Asante: Report, dominate, cash in

Asante Samuel deserves some empathy.



He was a fourth-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in 2003 because he went to the University of Central Florida.



If he had gone to the University of Miami or Florida, where he wanted to go, he would have been a first- or second-round guy, which means he would have been a millionaire soon after the draft.



As a fourth-rounder, well, he got what the Patriots wanted to give him, which turned out to be about $2 million over four years (including incentives). Knowing young people as I do, my guess is that most of that money is gone, probably long gone.



And to be honest, he played like a $7 million-a-year cornerback last year, especially when the big games started rolling around in December and January.



Now he wants what he feels is his: Money ... lots and lots of money.



The much-publicized tattoo he had emblazoned on his arm last summer - "Get Paid" - pretty much sums up his feelings.



From the sound of it, he appears to be losing patience on a daily basis with the Patriots, which is no surprise when everyone's contract is up for renewal, excluding Tom Brady's, of course.



Samuel wants to be paid like the best cornerbacks in the NFL .... $9 million to $10 million per season over five or six years. And I don't blame him. He is very, very good.



Just go back to the AFC Championship game when he all but eliminated Peyton Manning's top target, Marvin Harrison, and returned an interception for a touchdown. He performed big on the biggest stage, which really was the true Super Bowl.



From the Patriots' perspective, they want Samuel in a more manageable, $6 million-to-$7 million range over three or four seasons. And I don't blame them either. The Patriots are obsessed about not "overpaying" for talent and thus wrecking the it's-about-winning chemistry they have created.



Here's the problem for Samuel: The Patriots have all of the leverage.



The team put the much hated "franchise" tag on him in March, guaranteeing him $7.79 million for the 2007 season (it is the average of the top five paid cornerbacks in 2006). He becomes a free agent after the season, unless the Patriots choose to "franchise" him again, which would probably see his salary near $10 million for 2008.



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