Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Falcons release Asante Samuel

When the Atlanta Falcons acquired cornerback Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, they were bringing in a defensive back who had made the Pro Bowl in four of his past five seasons. Pairing him with Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson, the Falcons appeared to have crafted one of the league's premier cornerback trios. At the start of the 2013 season, however, Samuel was the only member of the trio who remained on the roster. As of Wednesday afternoon, the entire trio is out of Atlanta, as the Falcons have released Samuel.

With declining skills at the age of 33, Samuel was relegated to a bench role in 2013 and would have returned to the same role next season. Due a $3.5 million base salary with a $1.675 roster bonus this season, he was simply no longer worth the money. Having allowed a 113.7 passer rating on throws into his coverage this year, Samuel graded out as Pro Football Focus' 57th ranked cornerback among 110 qualifiers.

Dumping Samuel will allow the Falcons to give more valuable reps to their promising young cornerback duo of Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, who were both rookies in 2013. Trufant was phenomenal, grading out as PFF's No. 7 cornerback in his rookie campaign. Alford struggled quite a bit throughout the season, but the Falcons still feel that he has tremendous upside.

As for Samuel, he'll hit the open market with his best days behind him, but he can still contribute as a role player for an NFL defense, particularly one that employs a zone-heavy scheme. The Chicago Bears could let Charles Tillman walk as a free agent this offseason, so they could be a potential landing spot for Samuel.

Samuel was at his best 2007-10, when he made four consecutive Pro Bowls to go with a first-team All-Pro selection. He has 51 career interceptions and has led the league twice in that category (2006 and 2009).

"It Girl" of the week: Kitty Kennedy

The Just Sports & Just Us "It Girl" of the week is Kitty Kennedy.

Warren Sapp criticizes Nick Fairley's physique

Last month Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew was a bit critical of how Nick Fairley's weight was distributed within his body.

"I wouldn't say his weight is too high," Mayhew said. "He could probably re-position some of that weight."

Mayhew also stated that it's time for Fairley to mature and be more consistent since Fairley is known to disappear for  long stretches.

Hall of Famer Warren Sapp has jumped on board the Fairley physique bashing train. 

Sapp seems to have a dislike for the Detroit Lions defensive duo of Ndamukong Suh and Fairley. He has been critical of Suh since he's been in the league. Now he's made Fairley a target of his vocal rage.

"Little legs," Sapp said when asked about Fairley's game during Super Bowl festivities last week in New York. And he would go on to say "little legs" seven more times in his 12 sentences on the topic.

"You asked me a question and I told you: Little legs. Nick Fairley, little legs," he said, when asked if he thought Fairley was getting better. "I don't even know what he weighs. That would be so those little legs could carry it. He's got little legs. I've never seen a defensive tackle with little legs like that stay that long.

"It's a pounding, and you play the game inside with your legs. That's the only thing I see in him. I just laugh. He's got little legs. There's nothing he can do about it -- he's just genetically built a little different than most defensive tackles. He's just got little legs."

It's true that Sapp was one of the best in the game when he played and I actually have respect for the guy but he should stop trying to be the authority on all defensive lineman. He's had his time now it's time to let someone else shine. Do your job and be an analyst and be objective about it.

I agree that Fairley's weight is an issue just don't turn it into a personal attack.