The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2012 season expecting their secondary to be the strength of a contending team.
Instead, it’s been arguably the NFL’s worst positional unit, and a direct reason why the Eagles have lost eight consecutive games.
The Eagles signed highly-touted cornerback Nnamdo Asomugha before the 2011 campaign, while also trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Asomugha was given a five-year, $60 million deal that instantly made him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history. Yet he’s been a colossal disappointment since he was signed, and he’s almost a liability in pass coverage at this point.
DRC becomes a free agent after the season, as he is still finishing up the rookie contract he signed with Arizona back in 2008. He began his contract year playing at a Pro Bowl level, but his play has tailed also off as of late.
Asomugha has been targeted 49 times already this year. Quarterbacks throwing his way have completed 32 passes (65.3 percent) for 493 yards, an average of over 10 yards per attempt. Asomugha has allowed three touchdown passes, recorded just one interception and he has a passer rating against of 110.3.
DRC was lights out in Week 1 against Cleveland and continued his high play through the Week 6 game against Detroit. At that point, quarterbacks had completed just half of their passes against DRC for no touchdowns and three interceptions. That comes out to a 36.3 passer rating.
Since then, DRC has been torched week in and week out, allowing a completion percentage of 66.7 on 27 throws his way. Quarterbacks have averaged nearly 12 yards per attempt and they’ve thrown three touchdowns against no interceptions, which comes out to a 142.6 passer rating.
Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, DRC allowed four completions in five attempts for 63 yards and a score, giving up a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
The Eagles have Asomugha signed for $15 million against the cap in 2013, and they will be penalized $4 million if they release him. DRC is a free agent, so the team can let him walk at no penalty.
The problem then is that the Eagles have to fill those two positions, and they’re still unsure about the depth they have.
Rookie nickel corner Brandon Boykin was a fourth-round pick this past April. He’s had his ups and downs and will probably be a solid corner at some point.
But for next year, he’s best suited as a nickel corner given his lack of size.
Last year’s third-rounder, Curtis Marsh, has shown nothing so far, and he has the bust label written all over him. Marsh has barely gotten on the field in 2012 despite the awful play of the starters, and the Eagles would be foolish to count on him as anything more than a nickel or dime corner in 2013.
Bringing back Asomugha and DRC is not the answer, considering the two didn’t work this year. And the safeties, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, are backup-worthy players at best.
The Eagles will have a tough situation ahead of them. The best option may be to let DRC walk in free agency. He’s still just 25 years old, has a Pro Bowl on his resume and is a big, physical corner. Some team will assuredly give him the kind of deal Brandon Carr got from the Cowboys (five years, $50 million).
The Eagles need to be wiser than to re-sign DRC simply because there are no other options.
Re-working Asomugha’s contract would be ideal. He has a ton of talent and he may be able to play better in a more ideal situation. The Eagles haven’t generated any sort of a pass rush this year, and the team has quit on its head coach and defensive coordinator.
Still, that's putting a lot of faith in a 32-year old corner whose best days seem to be behind him. The Eagles may have to try their hand in the draft, take a chance on a prospect like Tyrann Mathieu or go for a guy like Brent Grimes in free agency.