by Scott Benson
scott@patriotsdaily.com

The first blow of free agency has been struck, and has been the trend since February 1, the Patriots have taken another one on the chin.

PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM

At this writing, reports that Asante Samuel has signed a first day deal with the Eagles have begun to trickle in. 

The Pro Bowl cornerback has apparently reached a six-year agreement with Philadelphia, though financial considerations have yet to be determined. Early rumors say that the former 4th round pick will average somewhere around $9.5 million a season for the Eagles, with as much as $20 million of the deal guaranteed. 

Given Samuel’s age and the position he plays, this is probably the biggest free agent loss of the Belichick era. Samuel logged significant minutes for the three-time champs from the beginning of his career, and by his fourth season, he had ascended to become one of the better playmaking cornerbacks in the league. Most memorable was his interception return for a touchdown against Peyton Manning in the 2006 AFC Championship, though Pats fans will now likely choose to remember his near-but-not-near-enough interception muff against another Manning in the Patriots’ shocking Super Bowl loss to the Giants just a few weeks ago.

Simply said, I feel bad. This is one of the hardest things about being a sports fan in this player/transient day and age, though we can’t begrudge Samuel for exploiting his CBA-given right to free and open bidding for his services. They same system worked for the Patriots last year, as talented players like Randy Moss and Wes Welker joined the Pats (albeit by trade, but you know that I mean) and helped them to one of the most historic, and controversial, seasons in league history. This time, the Lord has taketh away.

Samuel was a diligent worker and a solid citizen who played hard every week, and over time, developed skills that have now resulted in multi-lifetime security for himself and his family. He owes the Patriots and their fans nothing, aside from a warm handhake and a thanks for the chance. By the same token, we owe him – at the least – a nod of gratitude for meritorious service to the cause.

NO MOSS GATHERED

Drama queen Mike Florio and his little rat-faced three-name lackey Michael David Smith have barely concealed their glee – in between Sprint ads disguised as ‘posts’ to their rumor site – that the Patriots have yet to sign Randy Moss to the new contract that was expected to be executed sometime after midnight last night. Have I mentioned how much I think Florio has screwed up a good thing with Pro Football Talk?

Anyway, Moss talk at this point is nothing more than rank speculation, and I’ll take a pass on that, thanks. Who knows what the deal is, or isn’t? Nobody, I think, other than Moss himself. Pats fans who have worked themselves into a lather because the record-breaker has gone a whole 18 hours without re-upping probably need to get some fresh air or something.

Of course, I may have a dog in this hunt, secretly. I’ll probably get flamed like Jim Carrey’s Fireman Bill for even breathing a word of this, but I guess I wouldn’t be bothered too much if Moss pulled a swerve on the Pats and signed a mega-deal with someone else. Let’s just say that things got a little too “just ****ing sling it” for my tastes last season. Those September-October jump balls tend to peter out when the leaves fall, and when the winter winds start to whip, the high-flying Sling It Kids just end up with getting rolled for their lunch money, left in a heap with a bunch of sparkling 19-0 t-shirts they can’t use.

Of course, if he re-signs, it’ll be the greatest thing that ever happened.

FREE AGENT EMMANUEL LEWIS TO VISIT PATS NEXT WEEK

No, I guess the diminutive former star of TV’s Webster is still locked into his rookie deal or something, because its actually cornerback Jason Webster who will be stopping by Route 1 on Monday. Being perfectly honest here, it took me a good long time to even remember who Jason Webster, the former Bill, Falcon and 49’er, is. I have an exuse, though – he’s played only nine games over the last two years, none against the Pats. The 30 year old is said to be best suited for zone coverage. Oh, great – more 19 yard cushions. You can’t dog the Pats on this, though – they’ve lost Samuel, Eugene Wilson, and quite possibly Randall Gay (set for visits across the country apparently) over the last week. At the very least, Webster would provide experienced depth and competition as things get underway in the late summer. 

STAY TUNED

I’ll be back periodically as developments warrant. I hope you’ll do the same.