Roger Goodell has been an advocate for the NFL owners since the whole labor negotiations process began. He scheduled three meetings with the NFL Players Association last Tuesday. The owners clearly want to know what's up with free agents and a salary cap. The NFLPA is also eager to know what is going to happen and it is seeming more and more likely the two sides will come to an agreement well before the NFL draft in April.
Free Agency is supposed to begin during the first week of March whenever there is a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in place. It may have to be put off for a hypothetical “minute or two” until the two sides can agree on things. But one thing that almost everyone agrees on is Nnamdi Asomugha is the biggest name on the list this year.
One of the more important issues during the negotiations process for Asomugha is going to be his severely sprained ankle. It was enough of an issue approximately three months after it happened to cause him to miss the 2011 Pro Bowl. Perhaps Nnamdi is bigger than the Pro Bowl – too good to waste his time – or perhaps it is going to be an issue for him moving forward; maybe an issue that would require surgery.
It has become perpetually clear that neither Al Davis nor head coach Hue Jackson will mention Asomugha's name with regards to either the “leaders of the defense” or with regards to what the 2011 Raiders defense will look like. While Jackson makes a point to say that he “hopes all our players come back,” at the same time he says, “We have a plan” for moving forward. Thus far the name Nnamdi Asomugha has not been uttered from his mouth.
I don’t think the reasoning behind this careful non-name dropping approach is that the Oakland Raiders want him to go away. I do, however, think that the Raiders do not expect the man to accept what they will be willing to offer him to stay. Thus, the Raiders are preparing for life after Nnamdi.
Ultimately, it will be up to Asomugha to decide whether he is in it for the money or in it for his love and undeniable commitment to the organization that made him into the product he will be on the market this year.
Really, who is going to offer him a ton of cash to come and play for their team? The Detroit Lions or the Cleveland Browns are among the first teams that pop into my head. Asomugha has made it clear to his fellow players that he wants to play for a winner though. More than likely, teams like the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers are not going to pay bucko bucks, even for a player of his caliber.
For that reason his best option may be to stay put in Oakland. And when you consider that he is from California and that the Raiders are actually on the upswing for the first time since he has been a member of the team – well, it becomes less of a question and more of a given.
It is purely my opinion that the Raiders will offer him a contract in the neighborhood of 6-8 years for $80-$100 million with most of that coming at the end of the contract. It is Al Davis’ history to keep the players that are truly Raiders with the team. He wants Nnamdi to stay with the team. So even though Nnamdi’s contract was voided by his missing two games this year, the option of remaining with the Raiders in 2011 still remains in Nnamdi’s court.
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