July 30, 2011 looked like a day Philadelphia fans would always remember.
That was the day the Philadelphia Phillies acquired right-handed hitter Hunter Pence (who seemed like the Phillies' likely "last piece of the puzzle") from the Houston Astros.
It was also the day that the Philadelphia Eagles signed mega-bucks free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a lockdown defensive back who would make Eagles fans forget players like Ellis Hobbs.
Pence delivered as advertised, but the team around him never did and the Phillies traded Pence for prospects this past summer. Further salting the wound for Phillies fans, Pence was traded to the San Francisco Giants, who promptly won the 2012 World Series.
And in the two years it has likely taken Eagles fans to spell Asomugha's name (to be fair, spelling "Nick Foles" is a much easier task) the team has completely imploded. There were legitimate Super Bowl aspirations in the 2011 preseason, but the team finished 8-8.
The .500 record in the 2011 season was mediocre, to be sure. However, when compared to the 4-12 record that this season's team achieved en route to getting Andy Reid fired, the 2011 season was a joy ride.
The rapid, vertigo-inducing decline of the Eagles in the past two seasons cannot be laid entirely at Asomugha's feet. But he has not exactly covered himself in glory, either.
Per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Reid's last game as the Eagles' head coach included the benching of Asomugha in the fourth quarter as the death throes of the 42-7 rout by the New York Giants ran their course.
Perhaps the most surprising part about Asomugha's benching was not that it happened, but that it took such a long time to happen.
Asomugha's play in 2012 peaked at "adequate" and bottomed out at "awful," depending on which game you watched. Neither that ceiling nor that floor was expected of a player whose contract guaranteed him $25 million the day it was signed.
According to Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Eagles' secondary gave up a franchise-record (not the good kind) 33 touchdown passes in 2012, with Asomugha directly responsible for five of them. Asomugha's top-tier ability was supposed to make things easier for his defensive backfield teammates.
It did not happen that way.
More disturbing than Asomugha's penchant for getting beaten deep, though, was his annoying habit of gesticulating wildly toward his hapless teammates when a coverage breakdown in the secondary led to a score.
"That's not my guy, that's your guy," Asomugha seemed to be telling everyone watching.
That's not exactly the sort of leadership Eagles fans got from, say, Brian Dawkins, or even noted "me-me-me" guy Asante Samuel.
Mike Florio of NBCsports reported in November that Asomugha's contract calls for him to earn $15 million in 2013, which—given the year Asomugha had—the Eagles will be loath to pay. Unfortunately, that same contract guarantees Asomugha $4 million from the Eagles even if he is cut.
This probably explains why, per Tim McManus of Philadelphia Magazine, Asomugha is letting it be known that he would be willing to restructure his contract to stay in Philadelphia.
Even if that is true—and only Asomugha knows for sure—the Eagles' new head coach will likely have a lot to say about whether Asomugha fits into the new regime's plans in 2013 and beyond.
If in fact Asomugha is cut, he will fall onto the Eagles' free-agent bust regret pile with players like Jevon Kearse, Vince Young and Stacy Andrews.
And, for that matter, Michael Vick.
However, if his time with the Eagles ends for Asomugha, his departure is likely to receive as much rejoicing as his arrival did.
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