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Samuel became expendable when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha and acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last July, giving them three Pro Bowl cornerbacks. But the team couldn’t find a suitable deal for Samuel, so they kept him and used Rodgers-Cromartie in the nickel spot.

While Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in a new defense and new roles, Samuel was the most consistent of the trio. The outspoken Samuel probably sealed his fate in Philadelphia when he criticized the front office at the trade deadline, saying management was “playing fantasy football with the owner’s money.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Falcons only lost a seventh-round pick in the trade.

“I wish Philly nothing but the best,” Samuel said. “I love the organization and Eagles Nation. I know it was sad to see me go. I know everybody can’t figure why this is happening and why it is going this way, but this is business.”

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said Samuel “has been a very productive member of the Eagles for the past four years and we appreciate all that he has done for our organization.

“We obviously feel good about our cornerback situation moving forward with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as our starters. Those two played very well together in the latter part of the season and we anticipate that will continue as we head into the 2012 season.”

The Eagles, who were looking to clear payroll, now have 10 picks in the draft, including three of the top 51.

Samuel has 45 career interceptions in nine seasons, fourth among active players. He had only three interceptions in 14 games last season, but his 38 interceptions since 2006 lead the NFL.

“We just improved our team today,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Asante Samuel is a good football player and you can never have enough good players on your team. Our game has become more of a passing game, and you have to have the players who can neutralize how offenses are trying to attack you.”

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AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.