Asante Samuel came to the Eagles with a clear reputation. He was a gambling corner, who grabbed picks at a high rate, but could tend to get burned and was also a poor tackler.
As for the tackling, he has been pretty much as bad as advertised. No big revelation there.
He has absolutely grabbed picks at a high rate, but frankly he hasn't been the kind of gambler people think he is. In reality, he's become a really good cover corner. Football Outsiders released their cornerback charting data yesterday and Asante came out looking very good.
Samuel ranked first in both yards per pass and Success Rate in 2010, then third in both for 2011. Yes, this is the guy the Eagles are trying to trade because they want to be able to move Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie outside and play more man coverage. Samuel is still really good and would be a huge addition to any team that plays primarily zone coverage.
Asante allowed just 4.4 yards per reception last season. FO defines success rate as "the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down." Asante's was 67%.
All that said, there's a few things the writer misses here. For one, as it relates to trading him, his cap number is a big issue. He's making $9.5 million this year and $11.5 next. That's huge and when you've got a good and cheap alternative in DRC, it's not crazy to pick the cheap guy over the other. Especially when you've got lock up your 23 year old Pro Bowl RB at some point this offseason.
Also, I'm not sure if FO's charting data takes into account the times when Asante just decides to cover who he pleases. We know that he will literally call himself off a guy to cover what he wants at times. Sometimes it works out, like two years ago against the Colts when he picked off Peyton Manning, but other times it doesn't. Most notably against the Cardinals, when he checked off Larry Fitzgerald, leaving Jaiquwan Jarrett in one on one coverage in the end zone. Of course Fitz makes the game winning catch. Say what you will about Juan Castillo, but that's not how he drew that play up and I'm not sure that FO accounted for things like that. Let's also forget his flat out refusal to play press coverage when Sean McDermott wanted him to in 2010.
But the fact does remain that, overall, Asante was the Eagles best cover corner last season. While there may be valid arguments for why the team may want to move on from him, he will be a loss.