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MMQB (cont.)

Posted: Monday February 25, 2008 9:02AM; Updated: Monday February 25, 2008 2:22PM
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If Asante Samuel's play late last season was any indication, the Eagles may regret throwing a substantial contract his way.
If Asante Samuel's play late last season was any indication, the Eagles may regret throwing a substantial contract his way.
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2. Asante Samuel could be headed for Philadelphia. I hear the all-pro New England cornerback could get five years and $55 million from the Eagles, but I think once Philly finds out no other team out there is willing to give $10 million a year to a finesse corner who doesn't like contact -- unlike the franchised Marcus Trufant of the Seahawks and Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders -- the price tag could slither down a bit.

This is a dangerous, dangerous move if the Eagles do it. I've been a Samuel guy for the last couple of years, because he's a fearless competitor, but his play late last season, particularly when the Patriots couldn't generate a consistent pass-rush on Eli Manning, was poor.

He let David Tyree beat him for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, then let a catchable interception slip through his hands on the decisive Giant drive (though it would have been a tough catch), and didn't clobber Tyree when he was fighting for the catch heard 'round the world, though Samuel was only steps away.

3. Lane Kiffin may have been here representing the Raiders as their head coach, but I say it's no better than 50-50 that he'll coach Oakland this fall. Trust me on this one, Raider Nation. I'm not trying to stoke the fires or keep beating a dead horse.

If you recall, I said in Week 17 of the regular season that I thought Kiffin was even money to be fired. You'd think if he were still on board almost two months later that everything would be smoothed over. But he's still not talking to the defensive coordinator he wishes he could have fired after the season, Rob Ryan; owner Al Davis prevented that coaching change. There's more backbiting inside the coaching staff and front office than in any other front office in football. As ridiculous as it sounds, I think there's just as much of a chance that James Lofton will be head coach on opening day as Kiffin.

4. I'm warning you about DeAngelo Hall, Giants. And I'm warning you other suitors: Don't overpay for this man. A good beat guy on the Giants, Mike Garofolo of the Newark Star-Ledger, reports New York is considering trading its first-round pick, 31st overall, for Hall, who wants out of Atlanta so bad he'd walk to East Rutherford.

I can say two good things about Hall: He's a cornerback with guts, and he's only 24 years old. But coaches and some former teammates who've been around him think he's an immature risk-taker and not a team guy; I saw him throw some cheap shots in a training-camp brawl two years ago.

In my informal canvassing of personnel people over the last three days, I've gotten some incredulous looks about the report that the Giants might deal a low first-rounder for Hall. The reaction: Tom Coughlin would be playing with fire. Playing with fire is worth it for, say, a low third-rounder. But with the startling success of the G-men last year in the draft -- they drafted eight players, and all not only made the team, but also were active for at least one playoff game in New York's Super Bowl run -- it's much smarter to let your personnel staff find a good-citizen corner with a bright upside.

That would be miles better than to trade for a wiseacre who last year reamed out his head coach on the sideline after taking multiple personal-foul penalties against Carolina. I think Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff would be doing well to get a third-rounder for Hall, whose exit is a must for new coach Mike Smith to start fresh with a good locker room.

5. I've got a really strange, and incredible, free-agency story for you out of Tampa. Brian Kelly, a 32-year-old corner beaten out for his starting job by Phillip Buchanon with the Bucs, exercised a stunning clause in his contract last Monday.

Kelly has led the NFL in contract bitterness for the last few years, and the Bucs gave him the chance to get out of his contract this postseason by literally letting him buy back the prorated portion of his remaining signing bonus. He wrote a cashier's check to the Bucs for $453,000, essentially buying his way out of his contract. Frankly, I've never heard of this before. It shows either how confident Kelly is that he can get a contract averaging at least $4.75 million a year -- which is what he'd need in order to earn more than he'd have made with the Bucs, plus his buyout -- or how desperately he wanted to be out of a place he never felt paid him the money he deserved. Or both.

6. Zach Thomas' signing, for the money that cap-pinched Dallas paid for him, is pretty risky. The Cowboys paid Thomas $1 million to sign, a $1 million base salary, with $1 million in potential incentives. I thought New England's offer to Thomas made more sense. That offer was something like the principle of the Junior Seau contract last year -- a salary of approximately $1 million, plus an additional bonus paid in one-seventeenth increments for each week Thomas would be active. For a sledgehammer linebacker who will be 35 next opening day and who finished last year unable to play because of a lingering concussion, it makes more sense to pay as you go.

7. The Redskins are telling agents they're not going to overpay in free-agency this year, which would take an incredibly valuable stalking horse away from the market. We'll see how long this lasts, but I hear Washington has put a number on its top free agents, and if the Skins are outbid, they will be willing to let them go rather than up the ante. Bad news for agents. Great news for teams who hate Dan Snyder paying jillions for the Brandon Lloyds of the world.

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