INDIANAPOLIS – Conclusions should not be drawn from Chip Kelly’s and Howie Roseman’s lukewarm endorsement of Nnamdi Asomugha on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Neither the Eagles coach nor the general manager came out and said that they had no interest in keeping the 31-year-old cornerback or at least at his projected $15.5 million salary for 2013. But the Eagles’ brain trust – especially Kelly, who has already lavished praise on certain players – did not give the indication that Asomugha will be part of the team’s plans moving forward.
Kelly, who said he had finished watching most of the tape of the Eagles from last season, was asked what he thought of Asomugha after viewing his segment of plays.
“I think Nnamdi has a skill set that can play football,” Kelly said.
Kelly danced around other attempts to pin down his opinion of Asomugha's play. The coach did point out that he could not form final decisions on players based on the 2012 film because he did not always know the context of every play. Whether the Eagles bring Asomugha back or not – and they would have to eat a $4 million guaranteed chunk of the former Pro Bowler's pay if they were to release him – it appears all but certain that they won’t bring him back at such a lofty figure.
“I’m not a money guy, so I don’t look at guys [that way],” Kelly said. “When I watch film, I’m just trying to look at what they can do. What schemes they’re in, try to understand that. I don’t have the play call sheet, so when they called something, what was he exactly to do? But I’m looking at: Can a guy transition? Can he get in and out of breaks? Can he make plays on the ball? Can he tackle?”
Even an optimist would say that Asomugha struggled for most of the season. He did have his moments – such as shutting down Lions receiver Calvin Johnson for most of the Lions game in October. But his physical skills appeared to be diminishing in his tenth NFL season.
Roseman was asked if he could keep Asomugha, who the general manager signed to a five-year, $60 million contract in July, 2011, at his current salary.
“We got to go through all the decisions for every player on our roster,” Roseman said. “We want to make sure whenever we’re signing players, whenever we’re talking about players financially, it fits in our overall cap structure and what we’re trying to do.”
Here is more of what Kelly had to say on the podium and later in the hallway to a handful of reporters:
-- On where he was in evaluating the Eagles roster:
“I’ve watched every game, watched every cut-up of all our current players, but until you really gvet a chance to see them in person at our first minicamp, you don’t really know. The film will tell you a lot, but it doesn’t tell you everything.”
-- On possibly having to revamp the offense for disparate quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Nick Foles):
“You always have to do that no matter who you’re quarterback is. I don’t think it’s revamp the system, so it’s not like we’re going to throw our offense out and put another guy in. But obviously one player throws certain routes better than another player. One person does a better job in certain checks and reads at the line of scrimmage.”
-- On his impression of middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans:
“Physical player, obviously. The leader of the defense in terms of getting guys lined up. He really plays the game you want it to be played, and I think from listening to the people in the building there’s a quality about him you want to be around.”
-- On the report in January that he was close to signing with the Browns:
“Erroneous. That was a quote from Wedding Crashers.”
-- On transitioning his Oregon playbook to the NFL:
“Good question. It’s what do we feel on this level that we can run, and what’s going to fit. I think always early when you’re putting a playbook together there’s always more than less and then you start to cull it down as you get a chance to get to know your players and understand what they can do and what you are asking them to do. It’s pretty wide-ranging now.”
-- On whether he will call plays on offense:
“We haven’t finalized any of that.”