FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes signed his franchise tender on Tuesday.
Also, the Falcons are in trade discussions to acquire cornerback Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team is set to make players available after their second day of the offseason training program and could announce the trade for Samuel at that time if the deal doesn’t fall through.
Grimes did not attend the start of the Falcons’ voluntary offseason training program on Monday. Grimes is set to make $10.281 million this season. It is unclear if both sides will continue to negotiate toward a long-term deal.
In early March, the Falcons placed the franchise tag on Grimes, which guaranteed that he’d make the salary of the top five cornerbacks in the league.
Samuel, 31, was with the Patriots when Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was the director of college scouting. Dimitroff has coveted him in the past, but the trade price was considered too high by the Falcons.
The Eagles asking price has reportedly dropped to a late-round draft pick, perhaps the Falcons’ (non compensatory) seventh rounder. The snag could be if the Falcons are able to renegotiate a new contract with Samuel.
Grimes and Dunta Robinson were the starting cornerbacks for much of the past two seasons. The Falcons have had trouble finding a third cornerback.
Over the last two seasons, Brian Williams, Christopher Owens, Dominique Franks and Kelvin Hayden have all played the nickel back position.
If the Falcons are able to land Samuel they would have a solid trio of cornerbacks.
Falcons coach Mike Smith has noted that the nickel back is considered a starter because the team plays more downs in their nickel package than they do in their base defense.
Samuel is set to make $9.9 million in base salary this year and is set to make $11.4 next season.
Samuel, 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth-round (120th overall) of the 2003 draft out of Central Florida.
He played for the Patriots (2003-07) before playing for the Eagles (2008-11). He has been selected to four Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro after the 2007 season.
Samuel is noted for his ball-hawking skills. He has 45 career interceptions. He led the league with 10 interceptions in 2006 and with nine in 2009.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog