Saturday's Boston Herald reports that Pats cornerback Asante Samuel could sign his one-year franchise tender and report to the team early in training camp. This report implies that Samuel and the team won't strike a long-term deal before Monday's deadline for doing so.

But Saturday's Patriot Ledger reports that a long-term deal could be coming soon.

"We're a lot closer than we were before," agent Glenn Toby told the Patriot Ledger. "We're not adversaries; we're not fighting [the Patriots]. We're fighting to get it done collectively.

‘"There's been a great deal of progress," Toby added. "We respect Coach [Bill] Belichick -- he's a visionary; he's got a great system. We don't want to disrespect the system by any means. We want to do something that works.

"I think we're going to get something done because I think this could be an amazing year."

In our view, Toby's words are nothing short of amazing, given that there previously has been no indication of any progress being made between the two sides. If anything, the indications were that a long-term deal would not get accomplished, primarily because Samuel wants to get the kind of money that he'd only get on the open market from another team.

Then again, we're not so sure that Toby is in a position to speak with confidence about the situation. Though there is evidence on the Intergoogle of a relationship between Toby and Infinite Sports Management, the firm that represents Samuel, Toby is not listed by the NFLPA as a registered contract advisor.

In fact, the only registered NFL agents at Infinite Sports Management are Alonzo Shavers, Marcus Ross, and Jay Bianco. Among them, they are listed as having negotiated a total of six active contracs.

But in a clip from the now-defunct ESPN offering Quite Frankly that appears on Toby's MySpace page, Toby is introduced as "a sports agent who represents more than 25 NFL players."

And in the "Clients" section of his personal web site, Toby says that "Terra Firma Sports Agency" represents "over 30 NFL Players," including Asante "Samuels." (In his online bio, Toby says that he represents more than 25 NFL players, including "Assante Samuels.")

Our goal here isn't to knock Toby. It's obvious that he is a successful figure in the world of sports and entertainment. But the fact remains that he is not authorized to negotiate a football contract on behalf of Samuel. Thus, it makes it hard for us to put a lot of stock in his characterizations of the progress of any talks, given that the Patriots are prohibited under the Collective Bargaining Agreement from talking to Toby or any other person not licensed by the NFLPA to negotiate contracts about what it will take to get the deal done.