No Phly Zone: Nnamdi Asomugha is an Eagle

So it’s somewhere in the 5 o’clock hour on Friday and I’m sitting in my office, watching NFL Network’s coverage of free agency, which is less than an hour away from starting. The rumors are flying hot and heavy, first Nnamdi Asomugha was going to be a Jet, combining with Darrelle Revis to form perhaps the greatest CB tandem ever. That’s not hyperbole, the best CB tandem the league’s ever seen is Mike Hayes and Lester Haynes, the deadly Raiders duo of the mid 80s. Revis/Asomugha would be better. So just great, the rich got ridiculously richer. Then word came the Jets were out of it. Too bad for you Rex Ryan. The front runners were now… the Dallas Cowboys. Ugh. There was even a report of a Jerry and Stephen Jones fist bump. It looked like it was all but a done deal. So I was resigned to the fact that Asomugha was going to be a Cowboy. The Eagles, long rumored during the lockout to be a destination, were by all accounts never in discussions with him, and the acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie appeared to strengthen the notion that they were done on the CB market. The “aggressive” off-season Lurie said was going to happen that fans expected never happened, because as I wrote the other day, the DRC trade and Babin signing is as aggressive as the Eagles get. Then 6 pm hit.

And I was wrong. Wonderfully wrong. Nnamdi Asomugha is an Eagle. I doubt he proclaimed it like Tony Luke did in Invincible, but that would be pretty awesome.

Jeffrey Lurie, I love you man. You too Howie Roseman. Andy Reid, you’re a beautiful man. Forget all stuff I said, that was the booze talking. I won’t have another drink ever again, I promise. Come back home.

Final judgement will be passed when we see what happens with Asante Samuel (let’s hope he stays), but there is no denying this is ridiculously huge. Asomugha is on a HOF path and he took a pay cut to come to the Eagles. Other teams, presumably the Cowboys, Texans and perhaps 49ers, were apparently offering more money. I have said for a while that if he signs with Houston then all he cares about is money, and he’s never come across as a money first guy. He just came off a fully guaranteed 2 year, $28.5 million contract with Oakland. He got his money. Now he wants his ring.

The Eagles say they have the cap space to keep him, and they should, and they say that they do. The question is, will Asante Samuel still be here? His agent says he wants to stay. The Eagles should do everything they can to keep him. Talk of one of Samuel or DRC being a “slot corner” is a bunch of ignorant talk. Some teams use a set slot receiver, such as the Eagles with Jason Avant. Others take one of their starters and move him inside to try to gain a match-up advantage. Defensively some teams, such as the Packers with Charles Woodson, put their most talented guy on the slot receiver because the slot WR can and does go everywhere. Playing the slot requires a certain skill set, it is not just being the 3rd CB.

And in the NFL last year, 51% of snaps were played with 3+ WRs. That number will likely rise as spread offenses continue to work their way into the NFL. Looking just at the teams the Eagles play this year, they’re going to need 3+ corners. 8 opponents went with 3WRs over 40% of the time: the Rams (49%), Bills (46%), Bears (50%), Patriots (40%), Dolphins (42%), Giants (40%), Redskins (42%) and Cowboys (43%). That’s eleven games against teams that like to put the opposition in nickle often. The Rams will probably go with 3+ WR even more with Josh McDaniels running the offense, the acquisition of Chad Ochocinco could mean more from the Patriots, likewise with the Cowboys and a full season of Dez Bryant. The 49ers, who ran 3 WR 37% of the time probably make that jump too with Jim Harbaugh at the helm. The Cardinals went with 3 WRs only 29% of the time, but went 4 wide 31% of the time, for a total of 60% of their plays being with 3+ WR. The Rams (59%) and Bears (60) also went heavy with 3+, the Bills went an incredible 71%. Then there’s the playoffs, where the Eagles will likely face at least one of the Packers (60% at 3+) or Saints (50%), two highly talented teams that love to spread the ball around.

The Eagles do have Joselio Hanson, a fine nickel back, in the fold. But trading Samuel puts the Birds one injury away from being back to 2010. There is no need to trade Samuel. Not for cap reasons and certainly not for playing time reasons. So please Andy Reid, please Howie Roseman, find a way to make it work for you and Asante. Make the Eagles secondary a No Fly Zone.

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