Veteran corner Samuel not ready to retire

Veteran cornerback Asante Samuel lost his starting job at the end of the season, but he hasn’t lost his desire to continue playing football.

Immediately after the Atlanta Falcons suffered a season-ending loss to the Carolina Panthers, Samuel told ESPN.com he had no plans to retire.

Asked specifically if he wanted to continue playing, Samuel responded, "Of course. A couple more years. Two or three.’’

Samuel, who turns 33 next Monday, has one year remaining on his contract. His cap number would be $7,753,976 next season. Releasing Samuel would save the Falcons $4.5 million.

Samuel wants to remain with the Falcons but understands the reality of the business. He was active and healthy the last three weeks of the season yet didn’t play in two of those games. The Falcons turned to rookie cornerback Robert Alford instead.

"It’s all good,’’ Samuel said. "I’m a professional.’’

Samuel started his career as a fourth-round pick of New England and played five seasons with the Patriots. He moved on to Philadelphia for four seasons before joining the Falcons in 2012.

It appears Samuel might have to look elsewhere if he truly desires to play a few more seasons.

"I don’t make the rules,’’ Samuel said, "so I have to go with whatever happens.’’

No one can deny Samuel’s production over the years. He is the only player in NFL history to register at least one interception return for a touchdown in each of his first six NFL seasons (including the postseason). He has 51 career interceptions, fourth among active players behind Ed Reed (64), Charles Woodson (56), and Champ Bailey (52).