July 26, 2012;Bethlehem, PA. USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (24) catches the ball during training camp at Lehigh University. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Nnamdi Asomugha was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, not even two years after signing a monster contract with the team to be a franchise cornerback. The former Radier superstar did not fit in with the Eagles, and struggled mightily in his two seasons in Philly. He is going to turn 32 years old this offseason, and therefore hits the market at a bad time in his career. But is this a player who could still help the Buccaneers?
December 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) catches the ball for a touchdown as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (24) defends during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. The Eagles won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Pro Football Focus reveals that scouts have seen his skills decline greatly. He graded out negatively on the season, and allowed insanely high statistics on passes thrown to the receiver he covered. In fact, his passer rating against was 3rd highest in the NFL, as Nnamdi allowed opposing QB’s to rack up a rating above 120 when throwing to his man. He allowed 16 yards per catch, and 5 touchdowns, on only 66 targets in 2012. These numbers are definitely a red flag, showing that Nnamdi might be past his prime.
But it was only 2 years ago that experts were praising him as one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and rejoicing at his release from the Oakland Raiders, because he’d finally get a chance to go to a contending team. He was a part of the NFL’s Dream Team in Philly, but much like the rest of the team, failed to produce on those promises. Which brings up the bigger question… was it Nnamdi who was bad? Or was he the product of a team that fell apart under heavy expectations?
I believe there is still life left in Nnamdi Asomugha, and that for the right price he could be a key contributor to an NFL defense. His preferred style of play matches what the Buccaneers are looking for, as he’s very skilled in press man-to-man coverage as well as off-man coverage. He flies out of breaks and gets to the ball quickly when he’s backpedaling. At 6’2 and 210 pounds, he’s a beast of a cornerback, while still having enough speed to keep up with most NFL wideouts step for step, or at least jam them enough to keep himself at an advantage.
If you’re doubting whether or not the Buccaneers should pursue Nnamdi, just think back to when he was made available, and remember how you felt. I know many Buccaneer fans were quite upset that we didn’t pursue the potential franchise corner, thinking the Glazers were simply keeping the money in their pockets once again. Keep in mind that was only two years ago, and this is a player who still shows flashes of being that same guy. Go back and read a message board or your Twitter account from the time that Nnamdi was on the market, and you’ll remember what you loved about him.
He might have been overvalued heading into Philly, but he’ll never be at a lower value than he is right now. Previously thought of as the best corner in the game, or at least second to Darrelle Revis, Asomugha could provide a steal of a value as a player who could perform like Revis, but at a fraction of the cost. The risk is that there’s almost no way of knowing if Nnamdi can ever return to his form while in Oakland. So for that reason, I would prefer the Buccaneers give him a low offer and have him prove himself. But either way, it will be extremely interesting to see if Nnamdi ever bounces back after his wasted years with the Eagles.