When former EaglesGab writer, Mike Burke, posted his opinion of Nnamdi Asomugha on his site BirdsFan.com, I noticed our thoughts on the Eagles future plans with Asomugha varied greatly. This is not only a counter-opinion, but also my own personal thoughts on what the Eagles should do with Asomugha as a potential free agent pick up.
The Eagles secondary was at best last season- Dismal. They lacked proper support and it was abundantly clear that Asante Samuel needed more help as he could only cover one side of the field, and ultimately, only one receiver. Samuel has never been known as a lockdown corner, but a threat when throwing the ball in his direction. Samuel sits and waits for quarterbacks to make throws when they think he is out of range, but then jumps the route and gets an easy interception.
I have no complaints for Samuel, as he is the Eagles best defensive player and has been clutch when the defense needs him. The only down side is that when Samuel is covering one receiver, it leaves an entire side of the field open for the opposing quarterback to fire towards. After Ellis Hobbs went down with a serious neck injury in the middle of last season, there was a promising start for Eagles third string corner, Dimitri Patterson. That lasted for about three weeks and Patterson fell apart and allowed the pass to tear him apart.
Here is my question, why not bring in arguably the best corner in the NFL in Asomugha, to play along side Samuel?
One of Mike’s biggest reasons for not signing Asomugha to the Eagles is the price he will come at. Yes. He will be expensive. In fact, he may be receiving the largest contract on the team if he were to sign in Philadelphia. Luckily, the Eagles have much more cap room than in previous years, and are in an excellent position to spend money on the Pro-Bowl corner as a high value free agent target.
There was no chance that Asomugha was going to come at a cheap price, and his contract is one of the reasons he is no longer in Oakland. In the end, Asomugha would be worth every penny as he has already shown with the Raiders, as he was an amazing shutdown corner on a team that struggled defensively. The Eagles do have other needs, but the large amount of cap room gives Philadelphia the chance to pay Asomugha his contract, but still pursue other free agents at other positions.
Another of Mike’s concerns was Asomugha’s age. By the start of next season he will be 30, and that is a red-flag in the NFL. However, in Asomugha’s case, he has only played corner in his career, and that generally means a longer shelf life. I understand that 30 is old for a defensive player in the NFL, but the corner position is entirely different from a linebacker or a lineman. Look at it this way- Samuel is 30 now as well, and the Eagles were more than willing to shell out the money for his long-term contact a few seasons ago.
If the signing of Samuel shows anything about the Eagles, it is that they are not afraid to sign 30+ players. Especially someone who is as talented as Asomugha and that could make an instant impact on defense and push Philadelphia a step closer to the Lombardi Trophy.
As Mike mentioned, there have been rumors of the Eagles trading Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals in exchange for the young and promising corner in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. If this trade has already been nailed down, then forget Asomugha. Rodgers-Cromartie would be a stunning addition to the Eagles defense, and would be the better long-term choice. Although this trade does not seem likely as Arizona has established a great combination in Rodgers-Cromartie and their first round pick, Patrick Peterson.
Once free agency opens, the Eagles will be going full throttle to find a corner. Asomugha may not even be available by the time the Eagles get around to talking to him and getting him to visit Philadelphia. If this happens, Philadelphia should look into two corners that Mike mentioned- Jonathan Joseph and Brent Grimes, who are a year younger and will come at a much cheaper price than Asomugha.
The top choice is clearly Asomugha, and the compounded fact that the Dallas Cowboys have shown interest in him, the Eagles are going to throw everything and then some to get him in Philadelphia. This could be a similar situation to the Cliff Lee signing, who saw that one coming?