Tough decision: Should he be re-signed or should he be let go?
I'm sure many of you are thinking, "It's not a tough decision at all. Nnamdi Asomugha is the best cornerback in the league, we have to keep him." While I understand your feelings, there's much more to this than a simple matter of keeping or letting go of a great player.
Only Darrelle Revis can challenge his place as the best cornerback in the league, and the only other person who has an argument for best player on the Raiders is Richard Seymour.
We all know Asomugha's contract has been voided, and that he is going to be one of the most coveted free agents when the lockout ends—if it ever ends.
What are the ramifications of losing this great player? What would the advantages be? Are there any advantages? What are the consequences of keeping him?
In this article I will attempt to explore the pros and cons of Nnamdi Asomugha leaving the Raiders to play elsewhere as well as the pros and cons of re-signing him to continue playing for the Raiders.
As I mentioned before, Asomugha's contract has been voided and he is a free agent. Owners and general managers will be throwing obscene amounts of money at him in an attempt to secure his services for their team.
Most "experts" think he will be offered between $15 million and $16 million by most teams. That's a lot of money to pay for one player that isn't scoring touchdowns or racking up yards and first downs.
Sure, he's shutting down one side of the field, but doesn't that simply put more pressure on the players on the other side of the field?
At this moment the Raiders have approximately 25 free agents and some gaping holes in the roster that need to be filled.
With the amount of money Nnamdi will command, the team could get themselves a legitimate starter on the offensive line, and another starter to play outside linebacker. Two positions that need to be filled in a bad way.
Along with improving the starting line up on both offense and defense, the Raiders could get themselves a decent, third-string quarterback. Maybe even a guy that could become the future of that position, as well as re-signing key players like tight end Zach Miller and running back Michael Bush.
Think about that for a second. That's four starters and a potential "quarterback of the future" for the price of one. Filling those spots would make the team better overall, not just at cornerback.
That's a lot of value.
Now, this is not to say that keeping Asomugha is a bad idea. Just that it makes better business sense to let him go if the Raiders can't re-sign him for a more reasonable price.
Last season the player on the other side of Asomugha, Stanford Routt, was put under extreme pressure and was picked on by opposing quarterbacks.
Early in the season, Routt faltered. He gave up big plays and looked no better than he had in the past. Trust me, I've been just as critical of Routt as anyone.
As the season wore on, Routt stepped up his game and started making plays. Only the aforementioned Revis had a better "burn percentage" than Routt did. That's some good company to be in.
Routt was thrown at more than any other cornerback in the league, but held his own and put in a great season.
With Asomugha gone, Routt would not face as many attempts his way. This would alleviate a lot of the pressure on him and his numbers would only get better.
With the way teams play against the Raiders with Asomugha in the lineup, I think the one area the Raiders would miss him the most is in run support.
Asomugha has been one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the league for years. He is by far the best tackling cornerback on the Raiders. If he does leave Oakland, Routt and the other cornerbacks will have to improve their tackling skills.
That said, I'm sure the new coaching staff, including Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson, will put a high priority on that part of their game.
Having Woodson and Kevin Ross on the staff makes me feel a lot better about losing Asomugha. I have every confidence they can, and will, improve the skills of all the Raider defensive backs, especially man-to-man cover skills and tackling.
There are two more areas in which the Raiders would miss Asomugha. Leadership and community activism.
Asomugha is not a "rah-rah" guy, but he is a quiet, lead-by-example guy that doesn't have to say much to motivate his teammates. However, Richard Seymour and Jason Campbell are proving to be strong enough leaders that the team would survive without Asomugha in the locker room.
On the other hand, the community would miss Nnamdi more than can be said. His foundation and community works have been wonderful for the Bay Area. He means a lot to the community and he would be irreplaceable.
But are these two things enough incentive to spend that kind of money on him? From a strictly football standpoint, no.
The fact is, all philanthropists are virtually irreplaceable and priceless. I have a feeling that Asomugha's character is high enough that he won't abandon the people he means so much to in a non-football way.
If anything, moving to another city would open up more opportunities for him to help people.
Don't misunderstand me, I don't really want to lose Asomugha, I just don't want to keep him at such a cost that the team can't address other needs.
If the Raiders could re-sign him at a price that would allow the Raiders to address those other needs, (offensive line, outside linebacker, depth at quarterback and re-signing key players) I'd be all for keeping him.
Unfortunately, I don't see that as a possibility.
There is one thing that may change all of this. Asomugha is rumored to have stated that he is excited about playing for Rod Woodson. If this is the case, perhaps he'd take a little less money to stay in Oakland.
My question is, would he be willing to take a low enough salary that the team could re-sign the critical free agents like Miller and Bush, as well as sign some free agents that can improve the team overall?
I'm not sure that's even possible.
So what do you say Raider Nation? What did I miss? Where am I right? Where am I wrong? Speak your mind (within reason) in the comments.
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachJayDee
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