Asomugha: Keeping Asante could've worked

Nnamdi Asomugha says he and Asante Samuel could have played well together in 2012. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

As I've written about at length in the past, the decision to trade Asante Samuel was basically made last summer when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha.

Howie Roseman and Andy Reid made it pretty clear at the time that Samuel could be had for the right price. But they were unable to strike a deal before (and during) the season.

That led to the Birds sending Samuel to the Falcons before the draft and getting only a seventh-round pick in return.

Now, less than a month after the trade, Asomugha says the Eagles could have made it work with Samuel in 2012.

"I thought it could have worked, and I still think it could've worked," Asomugha told NFL Network's Rich Eisen, according to an excerpt on's Around the League blog. "Everybody keeps saying that, you know, 'No, it can't work, you three, blah blah blah. ' I still thought it could've worked, even coming into this season. Asante and I would talk about it through the offseason, like, we can fix this. ... Now we've got another year under our belt; now we've got time; and then he's gone. So now it's like you don't get that chance to put it back out there. But, you know, it's whatever, and he's happy with where he is."

It's true that the Eagles would have been fine in the secondary with Samuel at left corner and Asomugha at right corner, but where would that have left Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? He struggled when the Eagles moved him to the slot last year. And while Rodgers-Cromartie didn't do much complaining publicly, it would have been more difficult to keep quiet with a lack of playing time in 2012, which happens to be a contract year.

The decision to move Samuel may have had to do as much with managing personalities and keeping everyone in the locker room happy as it did with scheme, Samuel's age and Samuel's salary.

Going forward, look for Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie to start, with rookie Brandon Boykin fighting Joselio Hanson for the nickel spot. The coaches will have to find a capable fourth corner who can fill in and start if Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie gets injured. The top candidates for that role are second-year player Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes.

The other question is: Should the Eagles extend Rodgers-Cromartie's contract? Based on his performance last year, the answer is probably no. But if the Eagles are still confident that he can be a Pro Bowl-caliber corner going forward, they'll likely be able to get a better deal by signing Rodgers-Cromartie now than if they wait until the end of the season.

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