Don't be a ‘Wale, Trade Samuels Now

If the rumours are true, if Miami is serious that any negotiations to trade potential holdout pass rusher Adewale Ogunleye to Washington must include offensive tackle Chris Samuels, then the Skins would be wise to consider the trade.

I can hear the screams of disapproval from Skins fans all over the world after that statement!

However, after you wade through all the emotion and player loyalty, and look at the cold hard facts, its pretty clear that Samuels will either be a significantly overpaid Washington player or a free agent in 2005. Why?

You have to look no further than Samuels current cap number, his cap numbers in the following two years and the terms of his contract to work that out.

Samuels counts $8.750m against the 2004 cap, in the next two seasons that rises to $9.643m and $11.320m. However, Samuels has a clause in his contract that allows him to void the 2006 (and final) year of his contract next year. That will mean that the amount of the original signing bonus and subsequent restructure bonus monies prorated to the 2006 year will come back and hit the 2005 cap. Samuels cap number in 2005 will be close to $12.0m, and he will be a free agent in 2006.

This gives Samuels and his agent immense bargaining power in any contract extension negotiations that may be held with the Skins next year. The Skins could basically be held to ransom – either give Samuels a big contract extension with a significant signing bonus or watch him play out 2005 and become a free agent in 2006 getting nothing in return. Or if the $12.0m hit is unbearable by the team, release him, and again come up empty handed while Samuels and his agent go get the big signing bonus elsewhere. Either way the Skins are put in a difficult position.

There is one solution, however, that allows Washington to avoid the 2005 problem. Samuels is not worth the type of sizeable contract extension that he and his agent would be looking for next year. While he is a very good LOT he certainly is not an elite one. Samuels has some trade value now so consider these points :

1) The team is rebuilding under Gibbs now so let a new LOT develop at the same time………

2) Two of the draft picks in April were used on tackles……..

3) One of the veteran holdover tackles (Brandon Winey) started a few games at LOT last season and actually looked better than Samuels with the same abysmal coaching……..

4) Mark Brunell – the southpaw - will more than likely be the starting QB so the LOT position is not quite as important as it is with a right handed passer……...

5) Gibbs and Bugel have a tremendous track record of developing no-name linemen into solid to very good NFL players – go ask Joe Jacoby…………

6) Trading Samuels would also save the Skins nearly $2.1m against the 2004 salary cap – if the trade is consumated by July 15 when Samuels is due a $1.0m roster bonus – and count nothing in future years.

So why not trade Samuels to Miami who are desperate for a Left Offensive Tackle?

The Dolphins have their own contract problem child in DE Adewale Ogunleye who I am sure they would like to either sign or move on. The defensive line is the major weakness on the Washington team. A young productive pass rusher like Ogunleye would help shore up the defensive line and provide the type of rush-end not seen in nation's capital since Charles Mann. The cap space created by moving Samuels could be used to sign Ogunleye, and in the process eliminate the need to release Renaldo Wynn or Regan Upshaw – keeping some much needed veteran depth on the bench.

Is a straight swap of Samuels for Ogunleye fair?

Not in my opinion. LOT's are harder to find than rush ends so I would want more – either the Dolphins second round draft pick in 2005 or C/G Seth McKinney would be enough. I have more confidence in Gibbs and Bugel finding another hidden gem to play well at LOT than any other Head Coach/Offensive Line coaching combination in the NFL.

The trading of Samuels also helps to avoid the cap problems we will possibly face in the future. How can we avoid cap hell in 2006?……………..stay tuned for part II.

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