Paying Samuel isn't Patriots' only option at corner

One of the big free-agent questions this offseason is whether the New England Patriots will be able to keep cornerback Asante Samuel. Samuel's presumedly high price tag will certainly have a lot to do with the Patriots' decision. There are a number of reasons to think that Samuel has a lot of negotiating leverage.

First, he is a young player on a defense that is starting to get very long in the tooth in a lot of places; five players who started on New England's defense last season will be on the wrong side of 30 at the beginning of the 2008 season. Second, the Patriots' other starting cornerback, Ellis Hobbs, gave up 9.6 yards per pass attempt last season, and he may have to be replaced as well. There are also more than a few teams that have ample cap space to make a run at Samuel.