Arizona Cardinals: Why Cards Should Sign Nnamdi Asomugha, But Probably Won't
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Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the elite cornerbacks in the league.
He is also the NFL's hottest new property in free agency.
Asomugha's contract with the Oakland Raiders has been voided, following the team's failure to meet certain incentives built into his contract in 2010.
Asomugha, 29, who had been set to make no less than $16.9 million in 2011, is now an unrestricted free agent, free to join whomever he wishes.
Speculation as to where Asomugha will land is rife, with almost every team in the NFL being linked with the superstar. While the answer will likely have to wait until the league and players reach a new collective bargaining agreement, practically every team will now be frantically number crunching to figure out just how much money they can offer the pro-bowl corner.
Asomugha will likely prefer to land at a proven playoff caliber team, given the nature of his release, and the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets are becoming early favorites to sign him.
However, few playoff contenders would have the cap space in 2011 to add a near $17 million dollar a year player to their roster without offloading a significant number of players; that means if Asomugha is to become one of the highest paid players in the league, he may have to do so with a much lesser team.
Few teams in the league are in as big a need of a shake-up as the Arizona Cardinals, and fans and players would love to see a player like Asomugha in Cardinal Red.
Though the Cardinals need improving at several other positions, the Cornerback position has been of particular concern for them in 2010.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DRC, one of the real bright spots for the Cardinals in 2009, has failed to repeat those numbers in 2010 and on many occasions early in the season has failed to show up at all.
On the other side of the field, Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride have shown potential, but neither has really proved to be a sure starter at the position either.
A proven veteran shutdown corner like Asomugha would be an immediate and significant improvement at the position.
Asomugha would also be a good fit for the Cardinals, who play a similar, high pressure defense to the Raiders.
Like the Raiders, the Cardinals defense has traditionally been built around high octane, explosive players who will give up yards and points, but will also show up with some spectacular defensive stands and exciting turnovers at crucial points in the game.
For a team without any sure-fire stars to rally around, Larry Fitzgerald excluded, the Cardinals would benefit from the presence of a recognisable, elite player on defense.
Defenders like Adrian Wilson, the sole Cardinal to make the pro bowl in 2010 and Darnell Dockett are great, well-liked players, but neither has the profile of Nnamdi Asomugha.
What is the Cardinals biggest need in 2011?
Yes, a player like Nnamdi Asomugha would be a great fit for the Cardinals.
But, I hate to break it to you, Cardinals nation: There is practically no chance of them seriously pursuing him in 2011.
Yes, the Cardinals are in need of an overhaul and the Bidwell family will certainly need to invest heavily in making that happen, but Asomugha, for all of his skill, does not represent good value for money for the Cardinals.
The team are already in discussions with Larry Fitzgerald about extending his contract beyond 2011. Early indications are that this deal could make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.
Asomugha will likely also be amongst the top 10 highest players in the league and does nothing to improve the Cardinals other most pressing needs: A quarterback and improvements to the offensive line.
The Cardinals pass rush is also a higher priority than a Cornerback for the Cardinals. Many feel that the Cardinals should attempt to transition to a 4-3 system in the offseason, which will necessitate a number of significant acquisitions and trades.
What's more, Larry Fitzgerald will likely have a number of other stipulations before he puts pen-to-paper and has been vocal about how much he misses Anquan Boldin lining up opposite him.
There is, of course, precious little chance of Boldin retuning to the Cardinals, but it has been suggested that Fitzgerald's decision to re-sign may be contingent upon the Cardinals securing the services of another quality receiver either in the draft, like AJ Green, or else from another team.
Either way, this will not come cheap.
The Cardinals will already be expected to do a lot with a very tight budget and signing Asomugha, no matter how good he is, does not benefit the Cardinals enough to even warrant thinking about.
And that's a shame.
Players like Asomugha don't come around very often and he would be a fine addition to the Cardinals fold. In another year, even as recently as last year, the Cardinals may be a real contender in the race to sign him, but the team is in such need of improvements elsewhere, that he becomes little more than an unnecessary luxury.
The Cardinals will certainly need to land some big name players in 2011 and spend the big money on returning their team to winning ways—or else risk losing Larry Fitzgerald to similar clauses he may build into his contract—but Asomugha will not be the first of those signings.
It all comes down to timing, and in this case, it couldn't be worse for the Cardinals.
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