NFL free agency 2014: Should the Panthers pursue Asante Samuel?

Scott Cunningham

There's history with Sean McDermott, but that may not be enough.

The Atlanta Falcons released cornerback Asante Samuel as a cap casualty this week and it's natural to think there's a place for him in Carolina, but 2013 showed that the best days are behind the 33-year-old All Pro.

Samuel was one of the league's best cornerbacks under Sean McDermott in Philadelpia. He was a three-time all Pro and a Pro Bowl staple boasting an impressive 23 interceptions in four years and over 50 passes defended. The Falcons hoped he would be the missing piece in a defense needed a veteran presence, but he fell off in 2013 and makes it hard to justify the Panthers taking a shot.

Carolina established a propensity for taking chances on short-term options when they signed Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore a year ago, but in both cases they were younger players who didn't offer the staggering highs of Samuel but also didn't have his lows.

To put Samuel's season in contrast take a look at his passer rating allowed last season compared to Melvin White and Drayton Florence, both of whom started for Carolina.

Week Samuel Florence White
1 39.6 - 39.6
2 39.6 - 39.6
3 39.6 39.6 39.6
4 39.6 - -
5 62.5 75.0 39.6
6 - 95.8 93.8
7 149.3 24.0 118.8
8 77.1 40.2 61.3
9 92.8 24.0 118.8
10 118.8 0.0 67.6
11 118.8 56.3

98.4

12 118.8 80.6 118.8
13 91.7 77.1 39.6
14 39.6 147.9 88.8
15 39.6 104.2 47.9
16 39.6 118.8 88.5
17 39.6 65.6 56.9
DP - 39.6 116.7
Total 113.7 66.6 75.2

Part of this disparity is due to poor pass rushing from Atlanta, but that doesn't justify being almost twice as poor as Carolina's already middling cornerbacks. The middle section to the Falcons season was ugly, and despite a comeback by Samuel late in the year it wasn't enough to turn the tide.

We saw Florence slow as the year progressed on old legs, but Samuel's are older. Unless McDermott really pounds the table for his former star it's hard to imagine a place for him on the Panthers.

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