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Nnamdi Asomugha Eagles Lynchpin

Posted By Christopher Rowe On Jan 14 2011 @ 4:57 pm In NFL,Philadelphia,Philadelphia Eagles | 13 Comments

The incentives that voided the contract of former Raiders Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha make complete sense. Crazy old man Al Davis has been [1]vilified for being so incompetent as to not realize there was language in Asomugha’s contract that could set him free after two years. Are we really naïve enough to think that the parties who wrote the contract didn’t understand it? Even if Lionel Hutz were our attorney, [2]we still wouldn’t be that foolhardly and neither were Al Davis or the Oakland Raiders. There is a salary cap in the NFL which means there is literally a limit to what amount of money can be paid to one player before the entire team suffers. Oddly enough, losing their best player could make the Oakland Raiders a more effective team. It may also benefit our beloved Eagles manyfold to say the least!

[3]Once a Collective Bargaining Agreement has been reached, Asomugha will be able to field offers from any team willing to write a big enough check for his services. The Raiders know all about this, because they wrote the book on writing the check – oh and they also wrote the check – and signed the contract. The three-year deal Asomugha signed after the 2008 season for $45.3 million was met with dismay by 31 other teams at that time because the market had been “reset impossibly high.”

[4]Remember when Darrelle “Island” Revis didn’t show up to training camp with the Jets this year because of a contract dispute? Blame Asomugha. At the time, the Raiders had both Asomugha and Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler up for free agency. Asomugha had been franchised for $9.8 million in 2008, and Lechler’s contract had expired. The Raiders reeled both in by paying over the going rate. Way over the going rate, which is what Al Davis refers to as… “Tuesday.”

[5]Within Asomugha’s deal (unknown until uncovered by ESPN’s Adam Schefter )  were “likely-to-be-earned incentives” that would automatically void the deal if not met. One was playing time, and Asomugha played less in 2010 than he did in 2009 — missing two games because of an ankle injury. The other incentives  were performance based. If Asomugha had so much as a single interception, a single sack, a single fumble recovery or a single forced fumble, there would have been no void. In that case, the Raiders would have to decide whether to pay Asomugha $16.8 million or the average of the top five cornerbacks in the NFL, [6]whichever was higher. Well, if you were Al Davis… wait that’s not fair… What would a rational, sane businessman do if he were not Al Davis and was actually connected to the Real World? Ironically, Al Davis did just that. He reminded his best player not to let the door hit him on the Asomugha on his way out of the office.

This is not to question Asomugha ‘s talent, market value or availability. Because he is so good at covering receivers, Asomugha is the loneliest member of the defense. Quarterbacks simply don’t throw in his direction. He didn’t give up a single touchdown pass this season. Overall, playing in 14 of his team’s 16 games, Asomugha was thrown to 33 times, allowing a mere 13 of those to become completions.

[7]Mind you, the Raiders still gave up 29 TD passes and had 12 INT this season. If there’s a ripple effect from Asomugha’s lockdown skills, it’s impossible to detect. One player a defense does not make. Over the past three seasons, Asomugha has played 45 of 48 games. In those three years, the Raiders gave up 65 touchdown passes and Asomugha had 2 INT. The Raiders were 18-30 overall but 2-1 when Asomugha was out of the lineup. This tells us very little because there are other factors, other players and other variables involved in these stats. The telling stat is 13-33 completions over 14 games. Essentially, Asomugha permitted one completion per game and teams only bothered to attempt throwing his way approximately 2 times per game! For that, he was paid $38.3 million.

[8]Now, Nnamdi Asomugha [9], is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Many rumors and teams have sparked around his name lately, but one of them that has stood out is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles must make a move and find some way to sign the four-time Pro Bowler. Pairing him with Asante Samuel would create one of the most formidable tandem of shutdown corners in recent memory – if not NFL history. Guys like Dimitri Patterson, Ellis Hobbs and Joselio Hanson are just solid three, four and five corners. Asomugha, who is only 29, would be a huge help for the future—especially considering the fact that the NFL is evolving into a pass-first league.

[10]The duo of Asomugha and Samuel would cause a huge deterrent for offenses across the league – and it would return the Eagles to a true Jim Johnson scheme of creating QB pressure by using shutdown corners to take away downfield receivers. This is not to suggest that Asomugha would solve all of the Eagles problems but it would eradicate one gaping void in the Eagles secondary. This will cost a large sum of money but it is not often that a player of Asomugha’s caliber hits the free agent market.What position do the Eagles need to focus on the most?

Eagles fans have been disappointed way too many times over the years with playoff losses (especially four NFC Championship losses and a loss in Super Bowl XXXIX).  However,  it must be ascertained whether or not Asomugha would be willing to take a relatively small pay cut in order to win a Super Bowl – and be in position to contend for one over several years. Eagles fans should be salivating at the prospect of Nnamdi Asomugha [9] and Asante Samuel in the same defensive secondary.

[11]The Eagles are looking to improve upon areas they lacked in the 2010 season after finishing the season with losses to the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and a playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers in front of home crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. They have already made several non-marquee free-agent signings to bolster the depth chart including: WR Sinorice Moss, Rod Harper and Jeremy Williams, OL A.Q Shipley, Dallas Reynolds and Fenuki Tupou, TE John Nalbone and Cornelius Ingram and defensive back Jamar Wall. Jeffery Lurie and the Eagles front office have responded to the playoff loss by starting early with transactions—and they certainly should keep up the work.

[12]During that playoff loss, Philadelphia definitely missed the presence of Stewart Bradley, Nate Allen and Brandon Graham – and gave up 138 rushing yards to James Starks (123 of those yards) & Co. Even if all three had been healthy, Philadelphia’s defense needs an upgrade. Outstanding contributors are Trent Cole, Samuel, Bradley, Allen and Graham. Alongside those key players are just average players. [13]One thing that can be said is that Philadelphia needs linebackers. Aside from Bradley (concussions, dislocated shoulder and a history of injury problems), the Eagles don’t possess any quality linebackers. They are diminutive to say the least. If the Eagles want to win, they need a crop of linebackers that can stop the opponent’s run game – an area of concern and contention during the Andy Reid Era. Right now, the Eagles are starting Moise Fokou and Ernie Sims next to Bradley as well as rookie Jamar Chaney. A rotation that is serviceable and sometimes effective but never terrifying.


Is Kolb trade bait?

Offensive coordinators do not game plan away from the Eagles ferocious, formidable, fierce linebackers because they are undersized and overplayed. This should be a huge area of focus in the Draft, where the Eagles hold the 23rd overall pick. Not sure what they’ll find down there but they can’t trade players for draft picks until the CBA is finalized. Speculation had been that Kevin Kolb or a package of Kolb and Leonard Weaver may have been traded for [15]Cleveland’s first and third round picks. This means the only way to move up could be to trade future first round draft picks, which is a taboo topic for the Andy Reid Administration.

[16]Another aspect the Eagles really need to improve upon is the O-Line. Jason Peters and Todd Herremans are solid, but some of our lineman are just too big (Winston Justice and Max Jean-Giles) and immobile. Hadn’t you noticed how frequently Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb were chased, beaten and pummeled in the pocket almost every play? This should be a draft priority too and it is likely the first two (four?) picks could be OL, LB (followed by more OL & LB).

Offseason Goals:

  • Get Collective Bargaining Agreement settled
  • Sign Nnamdi Asomugha (don’t even look at the price tag)
  • Devise a brilliant draft strategy focused on Offensive Linemen, Hulking Linebackers and perhaps a bookend Defensive End to pair with Trent Cole

[17]Now my only real concern would be finding out that Howie Roseman and Andy Reid are reading my article in order to determine the course of this franchise! If that were the case, I’d be asking for a LOT more money and not just a ham sandwich or a hunk of prime rib either!!!!! Stay tuned for lots of offseason drama! Time’s yours!


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