Even though talks seem to be “progressing,” there still doesn’t seem to be that needed breakthrough that signifies that a deal will get done sooner rather than later. Regardless of their great intentions and public displays of goodwill, the fact remains that it’s now July and free agency hasn’t occurred and until there is a deal no teams will be heading to training camps and the clock continues to tick on the NFL season. In an attempt to get some good conversations flowing, the question involving superstar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is “can” or “will” the Falcons sign him rather than should. It would be a very redundant question to ask if the Falcons “should” sign him since he was described as the “best defensive free agent since Deion Sanders” by Peter King. All 32 teams would love to have the perennial Pro Bowler, but only a few teams will be in a position to sign him.
Who knows exactly what Asomugha will be demanding whenever free agency hits, but you can bet that its going to be high. Julius Peppers signed a 6 year, $84 million dollar deal coming out to $14 million a year in last seasons free agency period, so you could expect that Asomugha will at least get that and more. The Falcons clearly made a statement that they’re ready to win now, so why not just go ahead and finish the deal with the best defensive free agent on the market? Many talk about the need for a legit pass rusher opposite John Abraham, but having that type of lockdown cornerback immensely opens up the possibilities and makes everyone around him better.
Asomugha would allow the Falcons to continue their development of Kroy Biermann, Lawrence Sidbury, and new draft pick Cliff Matthews. Biermann appears to be on track for a big year after he did good in every single area except for actual sacks. The Raiders CB makes the linebackers better by allowing them more freedom to take chances knowing you have that kind of talent behind you. Same goes for safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud. Brent Grimes will be commanding some decent money himself after making the Pro Bowl, but they use the nickel package so often, it might as well be a starting position. If he wouldn’t accept the change, than let him test the market.
They Can Afford It
Who knows how free agency will work and what the terms will be, but the Falcons are one of the healthiest franchises in financial terms. Thomas Dimitroff has made good and fair deals and hasn’t really overpaid or made bad decisions in free agency (although some believe that Dunta Robinson’s $9 million a year deal was entirely too much). The Falcon aren’t the free-spending Washington Redskins or the New York Yankees. They have been extremely frugal in free agency, usually only picking up one main free agent and a few with much less impact. Some would question the amount of money that he will command, but you’ll get your money’s worth and then some. Sure, there are other players that need re-signing, but this would allow for the younger players to finally make their mark. Dimitroff is one of the best GM’s in the business and he could structure the deal where it would put the least possible strain on the franchise fiscal outlook. Enough knocking on the door, its time to bust it open and signing Nnamdi Asomugha would make them an immediate favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Like the other 31 NFL teams, the Falcons would love to have the All-Pro cornerback. He would add an element of improvement to the defense rarely ever seen in the franchise’s history. Even as much as they would be ecstatic to have him, it’s simply not financially feasible. Nnamdi Asomugha stands to break the bank of any franchise willing to sign him. If Julius Peppers got a deal paying him $14 million a year, you can guarantee that Asomugha will get more than that, at least $15 million and some say the figure could go as high as $18 million a year. The Falcons just have too many needs to invest that much money in one player. Thomas Dimitroff has been very frugal financially and has helped the Falcons become one of the most fiscally healthy franchises in the NFL.
Too Much Dough at One Position
If Dimitroff hadn’t made Dunta Robinson one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the league, this would definitely be a big possibility. But that’s not the case for Dunta Robinson got a 6 year, $57 million dollar deal and that’s not money that you pay a #2 cornerback. Even assuming that Asomugha accepted a $15 million dollar deal, that would put almost $25 million in two players and that would represent almost 30% of their entire budget. Not only would that prevent the Falcons from re-signing many of their own players coming up for free agency, it basically would end the chance of the Birds signing any other free agent likely for several years.
Too Many Priorities
Even though the Falcons don’t have very many holes, they do have issues at some other spots on the roster both in the short term and certainly in the long run. The defensive end position is a much more pressing issue since they whiffed on taking Jamaal Anderson with the #8 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. John Abraham is the only savior at the position, but he is 33 years old and is in the final year of his contract. They may have an answer in Kroy Biermann, but there’s no guarantee. One of the outside linebacker spots is definitely an issue as well, just as depth at cornerback after Robinson and Grimes is an issue. The offensive line is set to be reshuffled and many veterans are either reaching the end of their career or end of their contracts. The future at tight end is yet another issue that will need addressing mostly likely next year. Money will be needed for re-signing current players or signing new ones. A budget busting deal to Asomugha would definitely prohibit that.
Many Re-ups Needed
The Falcons have several players that need re-signing this year and next year that will get some well-deserved paydays. The Falcons definitely need to re-up Brent Grimes, who has Pro Bowl leverage, Matt Bryant, and would like to keep Jason Snelling, which will be tough since he may look for starter money. You also have to believe that the Birds will want to at least keep one of the three offensive linemen coming up and may want to keep more than that between Justin Blalock, Harvey Dahl, and Tyson Clabo. Then there’s the issue of Stephen Nicholas. In theory, they may be ok to let him walk, but relying on Mike Peterson or rookie Akeem Dent will be asking way too much. Next year, Curtis Lofton, Harry Douglas, Thomas DeCoud, and Kroy Biermann are all due to become free agents among others. Even though the coaching staff are sky high on Chris Owens taking the nickel spot, nightmares of the Green Bay debacle are seared into fans brains.
Grimes to Nickel? Not So Fast
Some say that the Birds should re-sign Brent Grimes and simply move him to the nickel back spot. The Falcons cornerback just made the Pro Bowl in his first season as a full-time starter. He may not be the biggest guy on the field, but he more than makes up with it using his insane athletic ability and toughness. He’s already 12th on the Falcons all-time interception list after only being a starter for a year and a backup before that. He got a well-deserved invite to the Pro Bowl as a starting cornerback. Even though he’s a great teammate, no one in their right mind would simply accept a demotion and a decreased contract to go along with it and you can’t blame him to be honest. The Falcons thought so highly of him that they tendered a first round pick on him. Simply put, the Falcons aren’t going to pay for 3 starting cornerbacks, especially when one of them would be making at least $15 million a year.