Eagles free agent stock: CB Nnamdi Asomugha

With the ups and downs of the NFL’s months-long lockout that have occurred thus far, there’s really no telling when this year’s free agency could finally get underway, but the general consensus is that a signing period is coming soon. The 2011 preseason schedule is quickly approaching, so shortly after reaching a new collective bargaining agreement, it’s arguable the NFL won’t have much of a choice when it comes to opening up the new league year and allowing transactions to take place. Despite the surrealism of the entire offseason, fans are still, by all accounts, anxiously anticipating the atmosphere of an open market. Potential targets of the Eagles have been discussed plenty of times over the last few months, so Bleed Green decided to do something a little different until the work stoppage finally meets its end; in the first of a hopefully brief series (the sooner it ends, the merrier, in correspondence with the lockout), an individual player, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, has been evaluated in somewhat of a free agent stock as the team prepares to make its first major moves of the year.

Eagles free agent stock of Nnamdi Asomugha:

Personal/Career Background:

  • 6-foot-2, 210 pounds; 30 years old; veteran of eight NFL seasons
  • Entered the league out of University of California, Berkeley as a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2003 and has played for the same team since then, garnering four Pro-Bowl appearances, four All-Pro selections, two team MVP awards, and other accolades as one of the most well regarded players at his position, both for his career and current stage of his tenure in the NFL

2011 Free Agency Connection:

  • Well known for his lucrative contractual relationship with the Raiders (he signed a complex, money-loaded three-year deal with the club in 2009 that made him one of the highest paid defensive backs in NFL history), Asomugha officially became a scheduled ’11 free agent when his contract with Oakland became void following last season as a result of failed incentives
  • Though there are several well-regarded cornerbacks set to be available on the market, including the Bengals’ Johnathan Joseph and seasoned Steelers vet Ike Taylor, Asomugha is by and far considered the No. 1 option in the secondary for needy, interested teams; in fact, the majority of media outlets view him as the top free agent of the entire 2011 class of unsigned players
  • Because Asomugha has eight years of experience in the NFL, he is on track to have unrestricted status on the market regardless of the rules put into place by the league’s new collective bargaining agreement. Whether pre-2010 guidelines are used as expected or the general rules of the uncapped offseason are again in effect, Asomugha will carry unrestricted status as a free agent, meaning he will be free to negotiate with all 32 NFL clubs once a signing period is kicked off

Why Nnamdi Asomugha Would be a Positive Free Agent Acquisition for the Eagles:

  • Quite simply, the Eagles need a starting cornerback. Opposite Asante Samuel in 2010, there was a great deal of inconsistency and it doesn’t appear that the incumbents at the first-string RCB spot (Dimitri Patterson and Ellis Hobbs) are guarantees to return this season. One of the team’s clear-cut priorities for the delayed free agency period is pursuing a top-notch, starting-caliber defensive back, and there’s no doubt Asomugha is that; one could argue he is the No. 1 player at his position in the entire league, even at age 30
  • In addition to locking up the right corner job and giving the Eagles’ perhaps the scariest CB tandem in the league, Asomugha would allow Samuel, who is also regarded as one of the NFL’s best defensive backs, to take advantage of his skills and perhaps shield some of his major flaws. Samuel is best known for his knack of recording interceptions and reading opponents’ decisions, so a shutdown cover man like Asomugha maintaining the other side of the field would almost certainly force the ball in Samuel’s direction, likely resulting in increased production
  • Looking at Asomugha’s statistics over the years, it’s hard to justify the veteran Raider’s success at the professional level by only using simple numbers, but when taking an in-depth look at how he’s completely shut down opposing teams’ passing games proves he’d all but wipe out an entire portion of the field as part of Philadelphia’s secondary. Even in recent seasons as he’s aged, Asomugha has been targeted in the air less than any other player in the league, and there have even been reports the ball was thrown for a complete pass in his area less than 10 times last year; those kind of feats are beyond impressive, and there’s no doubting he’d bring a new sense of coverage skills to the City of Brotherly Love

Why Nnamdi Asomugha Would Not be a Positive Free Agent Acquisition for the Eagles:

  • While immense talent speaks for itself, it’s been very clear in recent seasons that the Eagles haven’t been openly willing to hand huge contracts to aging veterans, and Asomugha is already 30 years old. Though he’s proven to be a special defender with skills above arguably everyone else at his position, there’s no telling when he could suddenly begin to decline and his age could begin to show on the field, especially in a role meant to contain speedy wide receivers and other shifty opponents
  • In relation to his age, Asomugha’s likely market as an unrestricted free agent could arguably get as, if not more, pricey than that of former Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers last offseason. While he seems to deserve a huge paycheck after his accomplishments as a shutdown defender for Oakland the last eight years, the Louisiana native could very well field offers including tens of millions of dollars in guaranteed money and salaries as large as $100 million, a total Albert Haynesworth infamously landed a few years ago as an acquisition of the Eagles’ rivals, the Redskins. Especially because of his age, a big question is whether Philadelphia would be open to dishing out such a hefty deal to someone like Asomugha, no matter how impressive the CB’s been
  • While Asomugha’s seen as one of the best at his position, there is a decent crop of mid-tier free agent options scheduled to be available–and for a significantly lower price. Someone like Joseph might also fetch a bit of a hefty contract, but for the most part, many of the other unsigned CBs around the league appear ready to take lesser contracts to simply get the opportunity to start for a team in 2011, and a handful of them are arguably as worthy of pursuit as Asomugha, including Taylor, who is similarly a successful press coverage specialist; the Redskins’ Carlos Rogers, who’s had trouble making turnovers, but has expressed interest in the Eagles and has been consistent over the years; Antonio Cromartie, a pick machine who played for the Jets last year; and Josh Wilson of the Ravens

Final Verdict: Coming up with a verdict for Asomugha is difficult at this point in the offseason. Earlier this year, almost immediately after the Eagles’ 2010 campaign came to a close, most analysts and fans would have approved of Asomugha instantly and dubbed him one of the few legitimate CB free agent targets. That was completely understandable, and that viewpoint still is relevant if the Eagles are serious about winning sooner rather than later. But as the months have gone on, more options seem to have surfaced (or at least become viable), and Philadelphia is now faced with a scenario of either going for the older, yet heralded man who will command a huge contract or taking a chance on a less talented, yet less expensive player who could potentially stick around longer. Simply because of the dominance Asomugha has displayed throughout his career, it’s hard to bet against him, especially when looking at a team like the Eagles that has a serious need for secondary help, so the verdict is, say, unchanging. If the Birds go after him, it will likely pay off, but if the club looks in another direction, there are enough alternative routes to wind up O.K. down the road.

One comment on “Eagles free agent stock: CB Nnamdi Asomugha

  1. ICDogg says:

    If the Eagles want to become a “Cover 2″ or “Tampa 2″ team, then signing Asomugha would not be a smart move; but if they want the best press corner, then he’s the best fit and no one else is even close. Since we don’t really know Castillo’s intentions, it’s hard to say

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