The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have acquired four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles. In exchange, the Falcons will send an undisclosed draft pick in this year's draft to the Eagles.
"We are pleased to be able to add a player of Asante's caliber to our roster," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "Asante has established himself as a very productive player during his career. He is a proven player in this league and we feel that this move upgrades the talent of our roster and improves our football team."
Samuel, 5-10, 185 pounds, was originally selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round (120th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2008. One of the premier playmaking cornerbacks in the League, Samuel is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and four-time Pro Bowler. Since 2006, his 38 interceptions lead the NFL and his 45 career picks rank fourth among active players. He is also the only player in NFL history to register at least one interception return for a touchdown in each of his first six NFL seasons, including postseason play.
"We just improved our team today," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. "Asante Samuel is a good football player and you can never have enough good players on your team. Our game has become more of a passing game, and you have to have the players who can neutralize how offenses are trying to attack you."
In 2011, Samuel started all 14 games in which he appeared and recorded 38 tackles (32 solo) with three interceptions, and 14 passes defensed. The 10th year pro out of the University of Central Florida picked off QB Matt Ryan in the Falcons' 35-31 win over the Eagles in 2011. He also intercepted QB John Skelton and took the ball 20 yards for a touchdown in Philadelphia's win over the Arizona Cardinals on 11/13/11.
Samuel earned four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl from 2007 to 2010 and his seven career postseason interceptions are tied for the third most in NFL history. He has recorded nine career interception returns for touchdowns, including postseason, and eight career multi-interception games. His four postseason interception returns for touchdowns are the most in NFL history and he ranks first in the NFL with 143 passes defensed since making his debut in 2003. In nine NFL seasons, Samuel has started 108 of 131 games while recording 377 total tackles (327 solo), 45 interceptions, 134 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
"I'm happy to be a Falcon," Samuel told the Atlanta media Wednesday evening during a conference call. "The city is embracing me well and I'm excited. I know the Falcons already have an excellent team, excellent coaches and schemes, talent and all that good stuff. I'm just sort of added to the bunch to get to one common goal."
Samuel was one of the first players drafted by the New England Patriots while Dimitroff served as the team's Director of College Scouting. In five seasons in New England, he recorded 229 tackles (204 solo) with 22 interceptions, three touchdowns, 79 passes defensed and four forced fumbles helping the Patriots Super Bowl titles in 2003 and 2004 (XXXVIII & XXXIX). In 2006, Samuel posted a career-high 10 interceptions, which led the NFL and was the second-best single-season output in Patriots history, behind Ron Hall's 11 in 1964. He also earned first-team All Pro honors from the Associated Press, PFWA, Sporting News and USA Today in his final season with the Patriots in 2007.
Samuel signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2008. He made an immediate impact, helping lead the Eagles to the NFC Championship game notching a pair of playoff interceptions, including a 44-yard pick-six at Minnesota in the NFC Wild Card game. In four seasons in Philadelphia, Samuel recorded 148 tackles (123 solo) with 23 interceptions, two touchdowns, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 53 passes defensed. He made three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl as an Eagle and earned All-Pro honors for the second time in his career following the 2009 season.