The biggest problem for the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles was the defense, and the weakest link on the defense was right cornerback.
Ellis Hobbs began the 2010 season as the team’s starter but lost his starting job after a disastrous performance against the Tennessee Titans in October. Dimitri Patterson took over for Hobbs but played just as poorly as Hobbs. He was benched after a dreadful performance against the Minnesota Vikings in December.
Hobbs sustained a season-ending neck injury against the Giants in December and will retire. Patterson is a free agent and will be a backup cornerback even if he does return (but I don’t think he will).
So the Eagles need a starting cornerback and it’s not going to be anybody on the current roster. It’s not Trevard Lindley or Joselio Hanson or Curtis Marsh.
It’s somebody who is not on the roster and most fans hope that it’s Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Asomugha is probably the best cornerback in the National Football League, maybe even the best defensive player. He’s earned three straight Pro Bowl selections and is such a feared cornerback that teams don’t even throw his way.
Last year, for example, the opposing quarterback statistics against Asomugha looked like this: 13-33, 205 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT. That’s in 14 games. Those are unbelievable numbers.
Asomugha is a free agent and will easily be the most sought after player in free agency. But he’s 29 years old and will be 30 in July. He probably has five to six dominant seasons left but the Eagles have proven that they don’t like 30 year old players.
In fact, they traded start cornerback Sheldon Brown after the 2009 season despite Brown still being one of the most productive defensive backs in the league. Brown went to the Cleveland Browns and will probably play for a number of years until he retires.
The Eagles made their point though. They don’t like players, especially defensive players, who are 30 years or older.
There are definitely some exceptions. Defensive end Juqua Parker is 33 but a) he is not a starter; he’s just a backup, and b) he’s not requiring lots of money like Asomugha will.
Michael Vick is going to be 31 by the time 2011 rolls around but that’s also a different scenario because he’s a quarterback, which is the most important position on the team. He also spent three straight years where he didn’t play or barely played at all.
But Nnamdi Asomugha? As good as he is, I don’t think the Eagles will sign him. He’s going to want a multi-year deal, likely five years or more, worth close to or even more than $100 million. That’s too much money for the Eagles to pay for a player who they can’t guarantee will still be productive as he ages.
They’re also going to have to compete with the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, and every other team in the NFL for Asomugha.
The easier solution is to go after the second best cornerback available–or maybe even a player who isn’t available.
Yeah, I still think the Eagles will trade Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. I believe that the Cardinals drafted Patrick Peterson to take the place of Rodgers-Cromartie. I think they didn’t draft a quarterback because they knew that Kolb was heading their way. And I think the deal is completely worked out and will be executed on the first or second day after the lockout ends.
If the Eagles could hypothetically have their pick of any cornerback in the league, namely Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie, I would rather have Rodgers-Cromartie than Asomugha. Why? Because Rodgers-Cromartie is four years younger than Asomugha. He’s only 25 years old. He has at least a decade left in his career. Even if he will only be a productive cornerback for seven more years, it’s likely that he’ll be effective longer than Asomugha.
If the Eagles sign Nnamdi Asomugha, they’ll have absolutely no room to go after anybody else in free agency. They won’t be able to sign defensive end Jason Babin from the Tennessee Titans. They wouldn’t be able to go after a linebacker like Barrett Ruud from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But if they trade for Rodgers-Cromartie, they’ll still have room to sign Jason Babin and possibly another starter.
Even if the Eagles don’t trade Kolb for Rodgers-Cromartie, I think they’ll sign a cornerback like Brent Grimes from the Atlanta Falcons.
I’d be shocked if the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s too old, he’s too expensive, and there is a much more promising option out there–Kolb for Rodgers-Cromartie.