"Say a prayer for the pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender."
(note: Hey guys, this is another submission article. Hope you enjoy.)
With Samuel Holding Out, Pats Will Mix and Match To Get By
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
The Pats have been in well-publicized negotiations with disgruntled cornerback Asante Samuel, and so far, very little progress has been made. With Samuel threatening to skip mini-camp, and sit out the first ten games of the season, the Pats suddenly have a monstrous hole in their secondary, and if there is any weakness on this team, it has to be in the defensive backfield. So what are the Pats going to do in order to to keep their title hopes alive?
Ellis Hobbs seems to have the inside track to the #1 corner spot coming into the season. Hobbs will be entering his third season, and since being drafted in the third round of the ’05 Draft, Hobbs as shown that he has the ability to play very well when playing in pass defenses, and has also been able to be a reliable cover man when matched up one-on-one with outside receivers. However, it will be a tall task to cover the #1 receivers the Pats will be playing, particularly in their own division, with Lee Evans, Laveranues Coles, and Chris Chambers all being exceptional wide-outs and Pro Bowl candidates each year.
All along, the Patriots’ brass has felt that Samuel is somewhat a “product of the system,” and that paying him Nate Clements or Champ Bailey money simply would be too much a player to man a position that could be filled by someone else, again, because their system is so good that the Pats can put anyone in that opening and will be able to not only survive, but prosper. However, think back to the receiver position last year, and the personnel that were plugged in to replace the voids left by Deion Branch and David Givens. Although their plan worked out for the most part, in big games, it ended up being the difference between a win and a loss, especially true in the AFC Championship Game. Over the off-season, the Pats spent a ton of money to correct their receiver problem, but it seemed like the reinforcements came too late, and the damage was already done. So with all that being said, how can it be assumed that this won’t happen again this year at the corner position? Sure, Samuel could very well be a “product,” but even if he is, he has played so outstanding in the Pats’ defensive scheme that he has almost become an irreplaceable commodity. So although the Pats are unwilling to pay Samuel’s asking price (reportedly in the $10 million a year range), the cost that they may be taking on by letting him walk could grow exponentially by the week. So, that’s just something to keep in mind when looking at
In one of the more unheralded moves of this off-season for any team in the league, the Pats were able to go out and sign Tory James, who is two years removed from his Pro Bowl appearance with
Competing with James to line up opposite
When talking about the safeties, the biggest question has to be the health of Rodney Harrison, who is coming off of a horrific leg injury that he suffered in the regular season finale against
The other possible safety lining up with
While Rodney’s health is still somewhat in question, and
With a lot of question marks entering the season, there is something that cannot be disputed. Having Asante Samuel on the field makes this unit, and the defense on a whole, better. However, the Pats are not going to break from their notion that the idea of giving Samuel a long-term deal, for the kind of money given to an elite corner, is going to put the total compensation of the contract at a much higher level than they are willing to go. It seems as though there is no resolution to this story in sight, and as long as Samuel and the Pats continue to remain true to their beliefs, then expect some of the names mentioned above to be called on to make a large contribution to the Pats’ run at a fourth title in seven years.
Thanks again for reading. Have a good weekend. Peace.~Mell-o