Patriots Franchise Asante Samuel

In a move that wasn't entirely unexpected, the New England Patriots placed the Franchise tag on free agent cornerback Asante Samuel. By franchising their top defender, the Patriots keep another of their highly prized players from leaving for a better offer elsewhere. Samuel was reportedly the target of a number of other teams around the league.

Talks between Samuel and the Patriots never progressed to the point where the Patriots were able to get a deal done to lock up their top corner. Negotiations apparently broke off earlier during the season when both sides couldn't agree on a ballpark range for a new deal. It wasn't until the season ended when the Patriots became serious about getting Samuel signed. During this past week, both sides met to discuss a new deal. Those discussions didn't progress as the team had hoped, which led to the tag being used.

The Patriots released the following statement from head coach Bill Belichick concerning the move.

"Asante Samuel is an outstanding player who has been a consistent contributor for us for several years," said Belichick. "We hope Asante remains a Patriot for many seasons to come."

Samuel will earn $7,790,000 guaranteed when he signs the tender. Any long term deal the Patriots work out with Samuel and his agent will have to be worth at least that franchise amount in the first season.

The last time the Patriots used the franchise tag was in 2005 on kicker Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri, much like Samuel, was unable to reach a deal with the team in the final season of his contract. Samuel, like Vinatieri, stated that he preferred not to be given the tag. Vinatieri was tagged, and played the entire 2005 season under the franchise tender. He ultimately left the following season as a free agent.

Samuel was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft (120th overall). The fifth year pro turned in a career season in 2006 with 65 tackles (60 solo) and 10 interceptions. He shared the league lead for interceptions with Broncos DB Champ Bailey. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound defender has 16 career regular season interceptions, (two for touchdowns) and four career postseason interceptions, (three for touchdowns). His three postseason scores tie a league record held by former Oakland Raider Willie Brown.


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