If by name only, when the Falcons added Asante Samuel to the roster through a trade with the Eagles, Falcons fans knew they were getting a great player.
The stats suggest Atlanta is adding one of the best cornerbacks currently in the league and a look at how the four-time Pro Bowler has performed against the Falcons' 2012 opponents suggests the best may be to come.
A two-time Super Bowl champ, Samuel's 38 interceptions since 2006 leads the NFL. His 45 career interceptions, since 2003, ranks fourth among active players, behind only Ed Reed, Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey. Samuel, 30, is 12 interceptions behind leader Reed, 33.
He's the only player in NFL history to record at least one interception return for a touchdown in each of his first six NFL seasons, including postseason play. With a resume like that, it's no wonder people call him "Pick-Six." Including postseason play, he's recorded nine career interception returns for touchdowns and he has eight games in his career with two or more interceptions.
Sixteen of Samuels' 45 regular season interceptions have come against teams the Falcons will face during the 2012 season.
Especially interesting is that Atlanta will face the NFC East this season, the division Samuel played in with the Eagles for the last four seasons. Samuel has three interceptions against the Giants including two in one game in 2010. He has three against Washington, also including two in one game, except in 2009. He has one against Dallas and recorded two against Philadelphia in 2007 when he was a member of the Patriots.
Samuel also brings am added dimension to the Falcons. His postseason experience is vast and is more extensive than virtually every player on Atlanta's roster.
At the 2011 season-ending press conference, head coach Mike Smith spoke about the directions he saw for his team as it looked to improve its roster and staff of coaches. Smith he wanted additions that have had positive experiences at the highest levels so they can share that with other members of the team. Smith felt players like that would be able to help Atlanta's still relatively young roster when found in those situations.
The cornerback's seven career postseason intereceptions are tied for the third most in NFL history. His four postseason interceptions returns for touchdowns are the most in NFL history.
The addition of Samuel to the Falcons defense adds a new dimension for Atlanta. With Samuel comes a pedigree of a high-level of play and a swagger that only comes with the best.