Ten days ago, when "DRC for Kolb" was still just a rumor, I wrote that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should be thought of not just as a corner opposite Asante Samuel, but also as his eventual replacement.
The Eagles always think 2-3 years in advance. Back in 2002, the Eagles had one of the best CB tandems in the league (Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor) and shocked pretty much everyone by selecting corners in each of the first two rounds in that year's draft. They knew Taylor's contract was set to expire after the 2003 season, at which point he'd be 30 years old and in demand of a huge contract, which he ultimately got in Seattle. Troy Vincent's deal was also to end after the 2003 season, at which point he'd be 32. Vincent signed a lucrative deal with Buffalo. Perhaps Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie shouldn't be thought of as the player opposite Asante Samuel, but rather Asante Samuel's eventual replacement. Take a look:
CB 2011 contract (age) 2012 contract (age) 2013 contract (age) 2014 contract (age) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie $950,000 (25) $1,128,750 (26) UFA (27) 28 Asante Samuel $5,900,000 (30) $8,400,000 (31) $10,400,000 (32) UFA (33)
Samuel will be 32 in 2013 and will make over $10 million. Are the Eagles going to pay that? Maybe. Are they likely to re-up Samuel with a lucrative deal when he becomes a FA in 2014? Don't bet on it. Should a trade for DRC come to fruition, obviously the Eagles would look to try to get a long term deal done with DRC before he's set to be a free agent in 2013. It would be a deal with the foreseeable future in mind, not just 2011.
Certainly, I didn't expect Asante to be replaced before DRC even arrived at the Philly airport, but after the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha this evening, that sentiment is a very possible reality. Samuel has been missing from training camp the last two days for an "excused absence due to personal reasons." When peppered with questions about Samuel (ranging from his whereabouts, his health, and whether or not the Eagles would keep all three corners), Eagles GM Howie Roseman repeatedly deflected. If the Eagles had definite plans to keep all three, Roseman would have shot down the speculation immediately. He didn't.
I think the Eagles are willing to go into the season with three excellent corners. As Jason put it earlier:
Good luck to anyone that tries to throw a pass against this defense next year.
But don't think for a second the Eagles won't deal Samuel in a heartbeat if the right deal presents itself.