The Philadelphia Eagles need an upgrade at the right cornerback position.
Ellis Hobbs struggled before he was finally benched after the meltdown against the Titans in Week 7. Dimitri Patterson started at the position the rest of the season. Patterson got off to a great start but teams eventually figured out how to expose him and he was a liability in the Eagles secondary. Joselio Hanson wasn't much better when he started for Asante Samuel.
Bottom line: The Eagles need to sign or trade for a legit starting cornerback to team up with Samuel.
The fan favorite to team up with Asante has been Nnamdi Asomugha ever since he was released from his contract with the Raiders, and Asomugha has been the best cornerback in football the past three seasons.
In 2010 Nnamdi was thrown at only 31 times the entire season—quarterbacks have refused to throw to his side. Asomugha didn't have one interception this season and only two combined in the past three seasons because no one wants to throw to his side. Darrelle Reevis had a great 2009 season, but Asomugha was just as good and was even better in 2010.
Clearly, Asomugha would be the best way for the Eagles to upgrade their secondary. He is also the most expensive option. Asomugha's last contract was worth $28.5 million for the first two years with an option on the third year worth the average of the top five quarterbacks' salaries or $16.875 million, depending on which was higher. Asomugha could rake in a contract worth somewhere around six years and about $90 million.
The Eagles have other options at cornerback other than Asomugha. Jonathan Joseph of the Bengals, Richard Marshall of the Panthers and Brent Grimes of the Falcons are other options on the free agent market as well.
Recently it has come out that the Eagles could be interested in trading for Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. It is unclear what exactly would be given up by each team to complete the trade, but it would require the Eagles to send Kevin Kolb to Arizona.
It has been rumored that the Eagles would be expecting to receive both a starter and a first-round draft pick for Kolb once the lockout is finally lifted. There is no guarantee that any team would be willing to ship out a first-round pick and a starting caliber player to the Eagles for a quarterback who has only made seven career starts.
There are several benefits to the Eagles trading Rodgers-Cromartie instead of signing Asomugha to a gigantic and possibly record-breaking deal.
First of all, DRC already has a contract, and it's a bargain for his abilities. Rodgers-Cromartie is in year four of a five-year, $15 million deal with a player option for a sixth year in 2013. His base salary for 2011 would be just $950,000.
The money the Eagles would be saving on DRC's contract could be spent on signing several other free agents. The Eagles have been reportedly interest in two of new defensive line coach Jim Washburn's former players, Jason Babin and Albert Haynesworth. The Eagles are very interested in bolstering their pass rush and both players would do that. The Eagles could sign both players with money left over to sign another player or two.
Rodgers-Cromartie's contract would probably be reworked in 2012 if they liked what they saw from him or they could let him go after 2012 and promote either Curtis Marsh or Trevard Lindley, as both players could be ready to start two years from now.
Another benefit of Rodgers-Cromartie is his potential. He is just 25 years old and continues to improve as a player each season. In just three seasons, he has 13 interceptions and returned four of those for touchdowns. Rodgers-Cromartie has become a playmaking corner in this league already and could greatly benefit learning from Asante Samuel for a few years.
DRC has great size as well at 6'2". Height is something the Eagles cornerbacks have lacked for a long time and having a taller corner that could match up against big wide outs in the NFC East Division like Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant would be very important going forward.
The important thing to realize if the Eagles traded for Rodgers-Cromartie is an improvement over guys like Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson. The Eagles got down early in a Week 15 contest against the Giants after Patterson gave up two early 30-plus-yard touchdown passes to Mario Manningham. In the Week 16 game versus the Vikings and the wild card playoff contest against the Packers, Patterson struggled as well. His struggles really cost the the Eagles both games as the Eagles offense got off to a slow start in both games. In the past, the Eagles defense always helped their offense out when they took a while to get going, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
Adding a solid cornerback like Rodgers-Cromartie would greatly benefit Samuel as well. He had seven interceptions in 2010 but was only targeted 36 times. Having a player as talented as DRC to play opposite of Samuel would force quarterbacks to throw at him more, which would give him more opportunities to jump routes and make plays.
Rodgers-Cromartie isn't a perfect corner by any stretch. He is still young and doesn't tackle well. He isn't as strong as coaches would like him to be at just 182 pounds. He does, however, posses great speed. He ran a 4.29 40 at the 2008 NFL Combine and might actually be faster than that. His recovery speed is outstanding and he has a knack for making big plays.
Bottom line, Rodgers-Cromartie isn't on the level of Nnamdi Asomugha, but he has a ton of ability and he allows the Eagles front office to sign possibly three or four impact free agents.
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