There is a reasonable argument to be made that Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was the worst cornerback in football last season.
No player at the position combined Asomugha's price tag and lack of performance, and now reports are coming out of Philadelphia that the cornerback might have been more poison than remedy as a teammate.
According to Hollis Thomas of WIP Radio in Philadelphia (via ESPN), Asomugha chose to eat lunch in his car during practices last season:
WIP Radio's Hollis Thomas, who played for the Eagles from 1996 to 2005, reported the information, citing unnamed sources, who told Thomas that Asomugha chose to eat in his car in order to secure some "me time" during the season.
On the surface, such a report means very little. But Asomugha's decision to secure some "me time" signals a disconnect between player, teammates and a franchise that could have been part of the reason why the "Dream Team" Eagles only won 12 games over their two seasons together.
The failure of the "Dream Team"—with Asomugha as one of its focal points—eventually led to the firing of head coach Andy Reid and the start of a new era in Philadelphia.
The fresh start under Chip Kelly might not include Asomugha.
Economics could guarantee a parting of ways.
Back in the summer of 2011, Asomugha signed a five-year, $60 million deal with $25 million guaranteed. Luring the once-elite cornerback to Philadelphia was part of a spending spree of acquisitions that included Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Steve Smith, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Vince Young. To do so, Philadelphia guaranteed Asomugha's salary for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons in addition to $4 million of 2013.
The Eagles now want Asomugha to restructure his deal or walk, which is a reasonable proposition considering the product put on the field. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last week that the Eagles will release Asomugha if he doesn't agree to take a sizable pay cut.
The Eagles would be better off swallowing the $4 million and releasing the underwhelming Asomugha, who will turn 32 years old in July.
Asomugha's numbers were predictably staggering.
Only four cornerbacks gave up a higher passer rating than Asomugha's 120.6 and not one of those four played more than 700 snaps. Over 1,012 snaps, Asomugha allowed five touchdowns and intercepted just one pass.
Only six cornerbacks allowed more yards per catch than Asomugha's 15.9. A large part of that stat came from his struggles allowing yards after the catch, as he gave up the fifth-most in the NFL in 2012 (305 yards).
Asomugha also committed seven penalties and missed seven tackles.
Yet, without a restructured contract, Asomugha would be scheduled to make $15 million in 2013—the second-highest cap hit among cornerbacks, according to Spotrac. The Eagles won't let such a ridiculous notion happen.
But other NFL teams should be wary of trying to recycle the Eagles' trash.
Asomugha was clearly a different player in Philadelphia than in Oakland, where the Raiders would stick him on one side of the field and opposing teams would simply go elsewhere. Such a luxury no longer exists.
You also don't have to be a rocket scientist to reason that the guaranteed money Asomugha made in both 2011 and 2012 could have negatively affected his play. Regardless of performance, Asomugha was getting paid—and handsomely.
Maybe Asomugha would rebound with a low-risk, incentive-based deal, but he'll be 32 by the time next season starts and it was already clear last season that some of his physical attributes are in decline.
Add another season, plus reports of Asomugha being a loner and the adjustment to another defensive system, and one has to wonder what kind of cornerback his next team will be getting.
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