Not really. Context is key. He was playing a lot on the outside at first--still very sparingly as a rookie. He got hurt on a fluke play (I believe his ankle) in the endzone. His second season he had what was likely an ablation procedure to fix an irregular heartbeat, but was still used sparingly. His third season he was involved a little more, but was still being used on gaget plays and such. After Rhule and Brady came in. Samuel hit his stride because he became a regular part of the offense and was involved seamlessly within the flow of the game. He was put into a position to succeed, so it's no surprise that his production increased as a receiver and an RB. Yeah, you can be cynical and say it was because it was a contract year, but I think it's because he always had it in him, and he actually had better coaches that maximized his skill set, who also understood what Samuel is and what he's not.
As to your point about paying him 10+ mil per year, that was never going to happen because we didn't have the money. I'm glad we got TMJ and Shi Smith, but not necessarily happy that we lost Samuel. The NFL is a business however, and it was time for Samuel to move on. We should be better for it (and he should too, but he is going back to Rivera and Scott Turner...).
You can see the impact from the collision and Erving gets hucked by the far smaller man that doesn't have a head of steam behind him. Was he put of position and off balance? Yes. But he was also trying to shoulder through him and literally got blown up by a guy a 40 lbs heavier than half his weight.
That's bad, bro. Greg Little bad.