A few years ago, if former Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was signing a contract, you could rest assured it was going to be a huge payday of guaranteed money, and that he was going to be locked in for a few years. The Philadelphia Eagles fell into that category in 2011, giving him a five-year, $60 million deal with $25 million guaranteed, and didn’t get exactly what they bargained for.
When Asomugha signed his deal with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this week, there wasn’t a dime of guaranteed money in it. He will earn a base package of $1.35 million with salary and available bonuses, and could possibly make an additional $1.65 million in incentives for playing time, and different awards such as being selected for the Pro Bowl and reaching the playoffs.
In essence, the 49ers were saying to Asomugha…prove it. Prove you can still be the defensive stud you were with the Oakland Raiders.
When he hit the market this season after being released by the Eagles, the was nowhere near as much interest in him as there was in 2011. His name still drew a few headlines and carried a little fanfare, but after his two pedestrian seasons with the Eagles, he was not considered an A-list acquisition.
At this point, his contract is just an incentive to play well enough through training camp to earn a spot on the roster (which he is not guaranteed right now), and to fight the other talented San Francisco corners for a starting job. How he plays this year will be a big indicator of whether he’s suffering from declining skills, or if it was just a bad fit in Philly.
The 49ers played this one to perfection. There is absolutely no risk for them in this signing, and if Asomugha does perform up to his previous 2008-2010 level, they will have gotten themselves a top flight corner at a bargain price–well, for at least one season. If he flops, the Niners aren’t out one bit of money, and can send him on his way without damaging the bottom line at all.
Asomugha was once considered among the very best corners in the game. At 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs, he brings a dimension to most secondaries that you don’t see when he’s playing well. He’s got the speed of a prototypical 5’11 corner, but with the size and vertical leap to equal some of the best receivers in the game.