By Justin Adkins:
Everyone loves sexy. And it doesn’t get much sexier for Eagles fans than thinking of the team signing impending free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
The 29 year old shutdown corner has been a fixture for the Raiders, with teams refusing to even throw to his side for an entire game. And thanks to Oakland’s buffoonery with contract negotiations, Asomugha has had his contract voided and will hit free agency as soon as the new league year begins (whenever that is, thanks to the NFL’s ongoing labor issues).
After news broke of the voided contract, it seems everyone and anyone have been beating the drum about the Eagles potentially signing this guy, and with good reason.
With Pro Bowler Asante Samuel on one side and complete drek on the other, the Eagles have a huge need at the position. Ellis Hobbs, average at best when healthy, is a free agent and likely retiring due to injury. Dimitri Patterson is barely an NFL-caliber player let alone a starter and likely will not be back. Joselio Hanson is a nickel back at best but preferably a dime back, and while he deserves a role on the team he definitely shouldn’t be starting. Youngster Trevard Lindley is likely destined for career nickel and dime duty as well.
The Eagles need a massive upgrade. With a need this big, drafting a corner in the first round of the draft would seem to be a no-brainer — unless they can sign a stud free agent that is.
And while the Eagles rightfully bear the cross of being a, um, tad conservative, they do know when to break Joe Banner’s piggy bank for an elite player. The signings of Jon Runyan, Jevon Kearse, and Asante Samuel prove this, not to mention their recent failed pursuit of both Randy Moss and Julius Peppers. Those moves show they’re not shy about spending cash on premium players at premium positions when the time is right.
Nnamdi Asomugha is both. He’s not, however, the guy they need to target.
That man is New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins. Because as much as the Eagles need a corner, they need a new guard for the right side of the offensive line even more. And since there’s no way a front office led by Joe Banner will pay two elite free agents in the same offseason, especially when one of those players (Asomugha) is at a position already getting elite money (Samuel), Mankins is the most appropriate choice.
The Eagles offensive line is ho-ho-rendous, and if they don’t do something about it right now, it won’t matter who the starting quarterback is as the backup will see just as much playing time while the other guy tries to heal up from the regular beating he’s taking.
There is no better option set to hit the free agent market than Mankins. Not yet 29, he is in his absolute prime. While he’s historically played the left side for New England, he’s shown the ability to instantly adapt from college tackle to NFL guard, so a side switch should be no problem for the three-time Pro Bowl blocker.
Not only is Mankins elite, he’s durable. From day one, he’s started all 89 games he’s played in for the Patriots.
Of course, he only played in 9 games this year due a protracted holdout arising from a contract dispute. Mankins wants to get paid, and rightfully so. And the Eagles can make that happen.
Speaking of value, the Eagles would be much better off signing an established stud offensive lineman like Mankins, and then looking to the draft to find their next starting corner. Asomugha is coming off a contract paying him $15 million per season, and while he’ll never see that annual amount from whoever he signs with, Mankins is the better bargain at his likely asking price of $7-8 million annually.
In a draft expected to be loaded with quality corner prospects, and a first round corner almost always being a better value than a first round guard, it’s the right move.
No one should be disappointed if the Eagles break the bank for Nnamdi Asomugha as he’s a great player at a position of critical need and importance. It’s the sexy choice. But the smart money should be on Logan Mankins.
If nothing else, his kickass beard can help ease the loss of Jayson Werth.
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