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Asante should show up

Yesterday the deadline passed for the Patriots to sign Asante Samuel to a long-term contract.  For those of you unfamiliar with the vagaries of the football salary structure, the Patriots have the exclusive rights to Samuel this season as they placed the 'franchise tag' on him.  This means that Samuel will make $7.79M for this season, which seems to be the highest salary (and salary cap hit) on the Patriots.  Of course, Samuel wanted a long-term contract with an upfront guaranteed bonus.  He and the Patriots couldn't agree on this, with the speculation being that they are something like $10M apart on guaranteed money.

The way that the NFL system works is tilted toward the Patriots in this case.  If Asante doesn't sign the one year tender for $7.79M, he has to sit out the season, earning nothing and losing a valuable year toward his NFL pension.  He can sign the tender and not show up.  In this case, he won't earn money until he shows up, and will also lose the pension credit.  In this case, he would probably show up by the 10th week which would cost him $5M in salary and preserve his pension credit.  This is what Asante threatened during the negotiatons with the Patriots on a long-term extension.

What I think he should do is to sign the tender and show up for training camp in exchange for a promise from the Patriots that they not use the franchise tag next year.  By some accounts, this is what the Patriots did for Adam Vinatieri before he left for the Colts.  Although they don't have to, they would probably make this agreement here, too.

The Patriots invested too much in this offseason to let this issue keep Asante out of 10 games.  Asante is determined to hit free agency to get his big payday.  It's clear that he and the Patriots don't agree on how much guaranteed money he can get.  If they agree to play this year, Asante will make some good money this year and will get a chance to test the market next year as a true free agent.  The Patriots get one more year out of him at a full price which they can fit under the salary cap.  And, they get one year to figure out how to replace him as they seem unlikely to sign him, particuarly after this situation.

I hope that the Patriots get this behind them before training camp starts so that it does not continue as a distraction.


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