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New England can’t stand Pat

Right now the Patriots are very good. But, the addition of a familiar face could make them Super again.

The New England Patriots are 5-1 and rolling towards another AFC East crown and playoff appearance.

That’s fine and good, but if the Patriots want more than that, they need to make a deal before tomorrow’s trade deadline. While the New England offense is humming right now, its defense still struggles to match up with top receivers in man coverage or generate much of a pass-rush. Though no teams are likely to part with a big-time pass-rusher, there is a certain Pro Bowl cornerback that used to play in New England and may be within the Patriots’ reach.

Asante Samuel didn’t leave town the way he had hoped. The interception specialist had just dropped a sure-pick on the final drive of Super Bowl XLII and watched the Giants end New England’s perfect season. Samuel signed with the Eagles that off-season and has recorded 21 interceptions in a four-year span, the most in the league.

But, as good as Samuel is, the Eagles did the pro-equivalent of recruiting over him, signing Nnamdi Asomugha and trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. This is good news for a New England team that is perilously thin in the secondary and has watched top corner Devin McCourty get torched on a regular basis. Due to the fact that the Eagles currently have two top-flight corners, the price tag on Samuel, a perennial Pro Bowl player, may not be as high as you would think.

A mid-round draft pick, probably a three or a four, may be all it takes. Even if they had to throw in an extra late-round pick, the Patriots should pull the trigger. Samuel would come in with knowledge of coach Bill Belichick’s defense, though the front has changed a bit, and would allow McCourty to play more zone and matchup with lesser receivers on occasion. It would also help a struggling pass-rush that is just now beginning to show signs of life by giving guys like Andre Carter and Rob Ninkovich an extra split-second to get to the quarterback.

The addition of Samuel would not only help the defense, however. No one in the league hauls in picks at the rate that Samuel does, and that means short fields and more possessions for Brady and that brutally efficient offense. Sure, we all know Brady can lead the offense the length of the field, but who wouldn’t take great field position?  Not saying Samuel is the  best”lock-down” corner out there, but his unique ability to create turnovers and big plays will play into the strengths of an already opportunistic defense.

So fine, the defense and the offense would both be better served, but what about special teams? Samuel doesn’t play special teams, you say? Well that doesn’t matter because he is an every-snap defender that adds depth to your secondary and frees you up to use more defensive backs in the kicking game. Furthermore, the defensive backs New England already uses on special teams, like Kyle Arrington, will be fresh when they are sent out on kickoff coverage, a unit that has struggled lately.

Samuel is only one player, and there may have been a little bad-blood when he left town. That being said, the Patriots could potentially get a Pro Bowl player at a position of weakness that would literally help them in all three phases of the game. If the Eagles make him available for a trade, it would be foolish for New England to not do everything in their power to make this happen. Right now the Patriots are a very good, but also flawed team. Adding Samuel would cover up a great deal of those flaws.

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