Gentlemen, I'm going to make an argument that was made during the Richard Seymour negotiations, and was not valid at that time. In relation to the present Asante Samuel melodrama, it is valid. The argument: Caving in to Samuel's present demands would establish an unsustainable precedent for future free agents on the Pats' roster. In 2003, the Pats' payment curve went from cheap to low middle class; plus Brady, at the mid-middle class level, plus Ty Law, who just plain cost too much. A gentle curve, a small aberration (Brady,) then a major aberration (Law.) By 04, Law had to go, topping the $10M/Y cap figure. When Law bounced out, Brady -- deservedly -- bounced up. He's now taking that spot in the Pats "ecology," the top of the curve position. Next, we have a class of "power earners" -- Seymour, Colvin, the franchised Samuel -- in the $6M-8m/year range. Then you go to the heart of the NE approach: a "middle class" from $2M-$5m that goes 13 players deep. That's 17 out of 22 starters in the "middle" or higher...27 guys making over $1m... which, when depicted as a scatter plot, gives the Pats their characteristic curve shaped salary distribution. I've posted the below image before, and the comment's been made that the Colts' comparison graph looks like a hockey stick -- a few players each making a good deal of coin, followed by no middle class, and a long string of lower paid players. This is the real story, not the "Peyton makes too much" angle (he actually makes less than Brady as of right now, per year against the cap.) Now, think what we're doing if we cave to Samuel: We're basically re-hiring Ty Law, at about what he was asking in 04, minus the wear and tear. We've been able to make the move on Seymour's behalf, showing there is room in the VIP lounge for more than just Brady - albeit in a sort of antechamber. Colvin has been climbing to that level for a while. Seymour's easy to make the value argument for, Colvin a bit less so. But as of now, the Foxboro brain trust says Colvin's still worth the money. But do you really leapfrog a cornerback, given the BB/SP philosophy thus far, to 10% MORE APY over the concensus best defensive lineman in the league (Seymour?) My gut says no. That would put every "good" or "very good" guy we happen upon into the category of "game changer" that Brady and Seymour are both rightly thought to be: they're the best at their position, and it is not a fluke. The Pats can only afford -- and understand they can only afford -- to pay that, when the player in question has established he is indeed the very top of the league at what he does. This is not the case for Samuel. He has only established that level of play for one year, and even that is in question in many minds. But it's not solely a fairness issue. It's not "don't pay him because he's not worth it." It's "don't pay him because he's not worth it, and the other half dozen guys that would try the same thing aren't worth it." This is not a team that can do what it does without depth. We get injured way too often to have total scrubs on the second and third teams. To some extent, talented rookie to third year players close that talent for value gap... but essentially, being cheap in your middle class will come back to bite you. We're not there yet, but caving to A.S. will get us much closer to there. In short: Not only "what's he really worth." But also, "what's he really worth to the Pats." To "preserve the curve," I don't think the answer to that in terms of APY can be anywhere near as high as his current asking price. I would be surprised if the Pats even pay an APY in the neighborhood of the one-year franchise money he's already getting. Curves are below; caveat - I'll be the first to say that I say wrong stuff all the time. I'm just on this kick to support my wrong ideas with graphs lately.