Here are my scattered thoughts after finding out the Eagles have signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha:
ASANTE STAYING OR GOING?
I hate to start with this, but the immediate question is about Asante Samuel, and whether the Eagles’ next move will be to trade him.
From an on-the-field standpoint, the logical move is to keep Samuel and go all in this season with him, Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. In 2010, according to Football Outsiders, the Eagles faced three or more receivers on 47 percent of their defensive plays. The results were not pretty. The Birds’ defense allowed a franchise-worst 31 touchdown passes and had the worst red-zone defense in the league.
During his press conference, GM Howie Roseman admitted that he’s kept the Packers in mind when making offseason moves. Green Bay took home the Lombardi Trophy last year, knocking the Eagles out in the process, and figures to be a contender for years to come.
But Roseman did not sound convincing when he talked about the Eagles potentially keeping all three cornerbacks on their roster. He left very open the possibility of a trade.
It doesn’t make sense to trade Rodgers-Cromartie. He’s 25 and due a base salary of just $950,000 in 2011 (about $1.1M in 2012). There would be no reason to get rid of him.
Samuel is a different story. He’s due $5.9M in 2011 and is 30 years old. That salary goes up to $8.2M in 2012. If anyone is going to get traded, it’s him.
But let's remember, Samuel turned in a career year last season and was one of the best cornerbacks in the league. This is not a player you just give away, and like I said, from an on-the-field standpoint, keeping him makes the most sense.
MONEY STILL TO SPEND?
Roseman said the Eagles are currently under the cap, and while they could probably get by without making many more additions, they have internal matters to deal with. I’m talking about a deal for Michael Vick and an extension for DeSean Jackson.
Plus, they still have to sign Danny Watkins and could very well add a linebacker and a backup running back.
Vince Young is not on the books yet, either.
Only Roseman, Joe Banner and company know the details of those remaining moves, but all those items will clearly play a role in what the Eagles decide to do with Samuel.
HOW GOOD IS ASOMUGHA?
This is the fun part. I can’t say I’ve watched a ton of Raiders games (although I plan to re-watch), but the numbers on Asomugha are staggering.
Teams just did not throw in his direction last year. Asomugha played 14 games and was targeted only 31 times (2.2 targets per game), per Football Outsiders. Samuel, meanwhile, was targeted 36 times in 11 games (3.27 targets per game). Opposing quarterbacks would have nowhere to go with these two guys on the field at the same time.
In 2009, Asomugha was targeted 25 times in 16 games. In 2008, 32 times in 15 games. In other words, he is a true shutdown corner. Opposing quarterbacks don’t even look in his direction.
SECRETS AND SURPRISES
The way the NFL is covered has changed in recent years. There are so many reporters, locally and nationally, that rumors fly all the time and scoops are revealed on an hourly basis.
But the Eagles seem to be the exception in terms of information being leaked. Think of the past three years. Before the 2009 season, they came out of nowhere and signed Vick without having previously been linked to him. Before 2010, as the Donovan McNabb rumors spread all over the place, they surprised everyone by dealing him within their division to the Redskins.
And now this. All day, we heard it was the Cowboys, and then the Jets and then back to the Cowboys. I even mentioned to Tim McManus of PhillySportsDaily.com that the Eagles would likely have to face Asomugha twice a year. I also told him about two e-mails I've received in the last couple days. One from a reader named Tim, and another from a reader named Joseph. Both suggested the Eagles trade Samuel and sign Asomugha.
I told them both they were crazy.
Won’t make that mistake again.
It sure seems like that’s the way the Birds are looking at it. Andy Reid has three years left on his current deal, and the Eagles just signed two free agents - Jason Babin and Asomugha - that are over 30 years old.
Roseman said Friday night he thinks this is a Super Bowl-caliber team. Given the roster moves and the changes to the coaching staff, and while conceding there are still holes, that has to be the expectation.