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(April 4, 2007) -- A near perfect offseason in New England now is being interrupted with a reminder that not everything is ideal in Patriots Nation.
Free-agent cornerback Asante Samuel, whom the Patriots slapped with their franchise tag in February, is so displeased and discouraged with his contract talks with the team that he now is open to the idea of playing elsewhere and will seek a trade.
"This is to let everybody know that I'm not happy anymore and things are not going well," Samuel said in his first public comments since the Patriots franchised him. "At first I thought it was going well, but it's not.
Asante Samuel feels his value is higher than the Patriots realize.
"We have a difference of opinion in my value. They think I'm worth one price and the other teams think I'm worth a lot more. If a long-term deal can't be done at fair numbers for me and New England, then I want to be traded."
If a long-term deal cannot get done with New England and a trade to another team does not happen, Samuel said he also is prepared to take steps he would rather not and sit out this season.
"If it's best for me and my family," Samuel said, "I will do that. Absolutely."
Patriots spokesman Stacey James declined to comment.
However this plays out, New England looks as if it is going to have to address this potential problem after solving others this offseason with the additions of linebacker Adalius Thomas, running back Sammy Morris, tight end Kyle Brady and wide receivers Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth and Kelley Washington.
"We want to get something done and my hope is we will," said Samuel, who intercepted 12 passes last season, including two he returned for touchdowns in the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets.
"But if it doesn't get done, I'm prepared to do what's best for me and my family. It's not what I want to do, but what I have to do. They're handling their business the way they feel they have to and I'm going to do the same."
Samuel now would like to be able to strike a deal with another team.
Problem is, any team that signs Samuel to an offer sheet -- and the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins are among the many teams seeking upgrades at the position -- would have to compensate the Patriots with two first-round picks.
A team also could arrange a sign-and-trade deal, but it's unlikely that New England would be willing to deal the 26-year-old Samuel within its division, although the Patriots once did so with free-agent running back Curtis Martin.
"The rest of the league knows I'm worth more than New England is offering, but they're scared of that (compensation)," Samuel said. "But I want to get this over with bad enough that I'm willing to work with any team to get a fair long-term deal done."
Samuel's frustration goes beyond the limitations that other teams are facing in trading for him. He said that when the offseason started, the Patriots told him they would take care of him with "an elite contract." But in Samuel's opinion, no "elite contract" has been forthcoming at a time when San Francisco shelled out $80 million for free-agent cornerback Nate Clements.
Also, Samuel has watched the Patriots reward players such as Thomas with big money while he has not been offered a similar deal for his role in helping the Patriots win two Super Bowls and come within a few minutes of reaching another last season.
Now, after contract talks stalled again, and the sides remain far apart, Samuel felt he had to push this issue from the background to the forefront.
"I've been patient, haven't said anything bad, haven't said anything negative," Samuel said. "But my patience has run out. Business is business. They handled their business their way and I'm handling my business my way. I hope not, I really hope not, but it's looking more and more like it could be time to move on."