A rumor that makes sense: Asomugha to stay in Oakland

RealFootball365.comSenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2008

The Oakland Raiders may soon be making a move all can agree on.

Adam Schefter (a big fan-favorite within the organization) reported on Thursday that the team is likely to franchise tag cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

As a side note, the word "likely" has rapidly become a common phrase when it comes to reporting Raider-related news.

A month ago, it was likely that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would be fired and then hired by the New York Jets. Two weeks ago, it was also likely that head coach Lane Kiffin would be leaving the team. Neither has happened.

Schefter played it safe with this unconfirmed assumption, though.

It should come to no one's surprise that Oakland will plan on—if it can't strike a long-term deal with Asomugha—slap its one and only franchise tag on the cornerback.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder allowed fewer than one catch per game all last season and was picked on just 28 times.

In 2006, however—before he was considered a top-tier corner—Asomugha picked off eight passes, deflected 11 balls and recorded 50 tackles. Opposing quarterbacks had enough of that last season, and, as a result, his numbers dropped dramatically. In 15 starts, the ex-California standout registered just 34 tackles, seven passes defensed and one INT.

Those misleadingly low numbers, however, certainly wouldn't deter 31 other NFL franchises from pursuing the soon-to-be sixth-year cornerback.

"Oakland is expected to slap its franchise tag on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who would be one of the hottest commodities on the open market if he were not tagged," Schefter wrote Thursday on NFL.com. "The franchise cornerback tag this year is $9.465 million. But Oakland knows that on the open market, Asomugha might be the No. 1-rated free agent."

Up to last season, Asomugha was still playing under the rookie contract he earned from being drafted 31st overall in 2003. The agreement was scheduled to last through the 2008 season, but included an option for the Lafayette, La. native to opt out of the final year. Had he not, Asomugha would be scheduled to earn $820,000 next season. Now, it appears he'll make $8,645,000 more than was planned.

Of course, Oakland will attempt to reach a longer-term deal with its No. 1 corner before the month comes to an end. The franchise tag, while it almost guarantees Asomugha stays another year, is a short-term solution that should be avoided if possible.

The last time Oakland used its franchise tag on a high-profile cornerback was back in '04 and '05 when it tagged Charles Woodson, who now plays for the Green Bay Packers. In the two years after being labeled a franchise player, Woodson started in 18 games, recorded 103 tackles, 11 passes defensed and two interceptions.

If the Raiders indeed tag Asomugha by the Feb. 21 deadline, they'll be able to match any offer sheet made by another team, or instead collect two first-round draft picks in return.

In the midst of a rumor-filled off season, this news should come as a nice break from the Kiffin-Ryan-Davis hearsay that has recently dominated all Raider-related media.

If the Raiders and Asomugha can work together to reach a long-term deal, that could help put some needless rumors to rest for next off season, also.

Luckily, there's a deadline to this rumor. The Raiders have exactly two weeks to decide what they'd like to do with their best defensive player.

Anthony Carroll can be contacted at acarroll@realfootball365.com