While many people were still marvelling over the Seattle Seahawk's upset of the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs, a big story broke for teams already planning for April: the Oakland Raiders voided the contract of star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
I couldn't believe it myself when I first saw it.
Nnamdi Asomugha is far and away the best player that the Oakland Raiders have (well, had), and he has been compensated as such, earning roughly $15 million per year under his last contract in Oakland.
In any event, though, the Raiders voided his contract, and there has been little discussion about whether or not Oakland will extend him another offer, in all likelihood because the Raiders could use a head coach first.
Meanwhile, down in San Diego, the Chargers have been experiencing their own internal turmoil, as defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was snatched away by the Carolina Panthers this week to become their next head coach.
While everyone in San Diego congratulates him on this accomplishment, Chargers fans are left a bit miffed as to what will become of the Chargers defense next year, which ultimately became the best unit in the league as a result of the direction of Rivera.
How are these two events related, you might ask?
Well, they're not.
At the same time, though, they are.
With the Chargers headed towards a new defensive coordinator, they are going to need a true playmaker on defense around which the new coach can build, rebuild or continue the defense from 2010.
I'm sure that, by now, most of you are already outraged. You're asking your computer screen things like "What about Shaun Phillips?" or "What about Kevin Burnett?" Trust me, I know.
Don't get me wrong, those guys are good. Shaun Phillips, Kevin Burnett, Antonio Garay, Stephen Cooper, they're all good players.
That's the problem though. They're good, not great.
The Chargers need a player on defense who is going to make things happen for them, and Nnamdi Asomugha can be that guy.
Let's all be honest with ourselves for a minute: Antoine Cason isn't getting it done. He's just another one of those guys that the Chargers have gone after in early rounds in the last few years who has shown potential, but never really reaches it.
On the other side of the defensive backfield, you have Quentin Jammer who is good, but is getting older.
Starting to make sense yet?
Nnamdi Asomugha would provide a lot of things for the Chargers. First and foremost, he puts a guy in the defensive backfield who makes things happen. He may not be a one-man interception machine, but he is considered one of the only shut down corners in the league, and that's something worth taking into consideration.
Think about it for a second.
Yes, I know he used to be a Raider.
It makes sense, doesn't it?
With the Chargers under new direction on defense, they are going to have to start to build some star power that the future defensive coordinator can work with. While Shaun Phillips and Kevin Burnett and all them are great, this is the chance to reach a whole different level as far as defensive talent is concerned.
The Chargers need Nnamdi Asomugha. Without him, they were a group of good players led by a great coach. With him, they could be a great group of players for the new defensive coordinator who just might be as good or better than Ron Rivera. With that kind of unit, what could possibly derail the new-look 2011 San Diego Chargers (you know, except for special teams errors and offensive turnovers)?
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