What's It Gonna Take to Sign Asomugha?

What's It Gonna Take to Sign Asomugha?

When the new league year finally begins, the Eagles will aggressively pursue big name free agents. Andy Reid, Howie Roseman, Joe Banner, and even Jeffrey Lurie have told us as much. Just looking at it from a historical standpoint, this front office has not been afraid to plunk down the cash when the right players are available.

But will that approach lead to the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha, the number one on most fans' wishlists? Conventional wisdom says the Birds need an experienced cornerback to play opposite Asante Samuel, and the former Oakland Raider is the best option on the open market. However, once the bidding is under way and the price starts rising north—and possibly closing in on $20 million per year—will the powers that be still be willing to back up their talk?

In today's edition of the Monday Morning Quarterback, SI's Peter King listed his favorites to win the Asomugha sweepstakes, and while he pegged the Eagles at the top—ahead of Dallas and Baltimore—it was the money that really raised some eyebrows.

1. Philadelphia. Rumors (and they seem to be more than that) are flying that the Eagles are going to strike quickly and spend big money in free agency. Imagine pairing Asomugha with very good cover man Asante Samuel. It'd be money well-spent, even at a Bradyish $18 million a year.

$18 million. For the sake of comparison, Asomugha's previous contract paid him an average of $15 million. Mike Vick's salary after signing the franchise tag will be an estimated $16 million in 2011. Samuel's current deal, outrageous as it was in 2008, pays him slightly less than $10 million per season. And Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, who just last year was made one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL, could earn around $15 million annually.

So $18 million would presumably make Asomugha the highest paid Eagle and defensive player in the league simultaneously, and he'll be 30 years old before the season begins. Will management be willing to meet those kinds of demands?

Another interesting take I derived from this was the impact such a deal would have on Samuel. The Eagles' ball hawk is under contract for three more seasons, but Samuel fancies himself one of best corners in football, so making half the amount of money as the guy starting across the field might cause some acrimony. Some of that money was up front, and as Philly.com's Sheil Kapadia points out, Samuel will only make $5.9M in 2011.

In other words, the Eagles would probably have a year at most before Asante Samuel is lobbying for a new contract.

It all makes us wonder if Asomugha is really in their plans. That's a ton of money, and there is actually a deep crop of corners heading to free agency whenever it opens. Cincinnati's Johnathan Joseph, the New York Jets' Antonio Cromartie, Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor, and Washington's Carlos Rogers are among the noteworthy soon-to-be available players.

There is also talk about the Birds going after free agents at other positions as well. Names like Albert Haynesworth, Plaxico Burress, and Reggie Bush have been bandied about all over the place, including a recent piece by Michael Silver for Yahoo! Sports. The Eagles could also use a veteran backup quarterback, perhaps an upgrade at right tackle, and may have some interest in re-signing Stewart Bradley to play strongside linebacker.

Still, Nnamdi Asomugha fills a very specific need in their defense. I had to laugh actually at a report by CBS Sports' Clark Judge, which suggested the Eagles are indifferent over the corner due to the money and because "he's a press cornerback who plays only the right-cornerback position." That's precisely, down to the letter, what they would be looking for though, so it would seem only the money might be the issue between the two.

And we can only suspect the money would be an issue, but in the past, it often hasn't been. The Eagles were notably outbid for Peppers last off-season, but they have signed a number of high-priced talents through the years, such as Samuel and Jason Peters on their roster now. Yet we feel compelled to acknowledge $18 mil could conceivably be a tipping point, especially when they have the opportunity to acquire some other pretty good players.

>> Monday Morning Quarterback [SI]
>> P. King tabs Eagles as favorites for Asomugha [MtC]
>> Eagles eagerly anticipate start of free agency [Yahoo!]
>> Asomugha not high on Eagles' wish list [CBS]

Raudabaugh throws 10 touchdowns, Soul clinch home-field advantage

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Raudabaugh throws 10 touchdowns, Soul clinch home-field advantage

The Soul (13-3) defeated the Orlando Predators (12-4)  67-59 at the Amway Center in Orlando on Saturday night.  

With the win, the Soul will have home field advantage throughout the American Conference Championship game.

Reigning league MVP Dan Raudabaugh completed 21 of 29 passes for 335 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Four of those scores were to receiver Chris Duvalt, who led all receivers with nine receptions and 155 yards.

The Soul will host the Tampa Bay Storm (2-14) next Sunday, August 7 at 6 p.m. With a win, the Soul will return to PPL Center for the conference championship on August 14. 
 

Hellickson wins possible Phillies swan song, but sustains minor hand injury

Hellickson wins possible Phillies swan song, but sustains minor hand injury

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – Though he wasn’t happy with the way he pitched in what might have been his last start with the Phillies, Jeremy Hellickson still helped the ballclub win on Saturday night.
 
He just did it more with his bat than his arm.
 
Hellickson’s two-run double – the first extra-base hit of his career – gave the Phillies the lead in the fifth inning of what eventually became a 9-5 win over the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay).

“The big hit for me was Hellickson’s double,” manager Pete Mackanin said after the game.
 
Mackanin was so happy with Hellickson’s double down the leftfield line that he absolved the pitcher for not being able to get a bunt down earlier in the at-bat.
 
Well, sort of.
 
“We’re going to have to do extra work with all the pitchers because we’re not getting bunts down,” said Mackanin, who was happy to get the win but a little exasperated by the sloppiness of the three-hour, 40-minute dull toothache of a game.
 
“At least we won,” he said. “A win’s a win.”
 
Hellickson's at-bat in the fifth was actually a little more adventurous than anyone would have liked, particularly with the pitcher being on the trading block. Before stroking the double to left, Hellickson got jammed while hitting a foul ball to the right side. The jam shot caused some soreness and bruising on the palm of his right hand and prevented him from getting through the sixth inning. He left after 5 2/3 innings with a 5-3 lead that he helped build.
 
“I’m still not really sure what it is, a bruise or I popped something in there,” Hellickson said after the game. “But I felt fine, though, after I did it. It was just a little tough to grip -- just the curveball.”

Mackanin sent pitching coach Bob McClure to the mound to check on Hellickson in the sixth. The pitcher told McClure his palm was sore so Mackanin got him out of there.
 
“It jarred him,” Mackanin said. “But he’s OK now. In the end, it’s not a big deal. It’s not like his elbow was hurting, you know what I mean?
 
“Anyway, his hit was the big hit of the game. It turned it around for us.”
 
It remains to be seen whether Hellickson’s sore hand will affect his trade status. The issue seemed minor enough that it shouldn’t, but one never knows.
 
The Phillies, according to sources, have received significant interest in Hellickson and he could be on the move by Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. A number of teams including the Orioles, Pirates, Blue Jays and Cardinals have been monitoring him. The Dodgers and Tigers, both in the market for a starter, had scouts at Saturday night’s game. The Tigers scout parachuted in specifically to see Hellickson.
 
Hellickson finished the month of July with a 2.34 ERA in six starts and gave up just four runs in his last three starts. So if someone trades for him, they will be getting a hot hand. He is 8-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts with the Phillies.
 
“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Hellickson said. “I'll find out Monday. 
 
“I can't control any of it. So I've just been focused on every start and in between starts. Whatever happens happens. Hopefully I'm still here on Tuesday.”
 
Mackanin echoed that thought.
 
“He’s been an outstanding guy, a real likable person,” Mackanin said. “He’s got a good work ethic. He’s focused and poised on the mound. He’s a true pitcher. He knows how to change speeds. I’d like to keep him.”
 
Atlanta out-hit the Phils, 14-9, but the Braves made two errors and their pitchers walked eight, including four in the eighth innings when the Phillies sent nine men to the plate and scored four times without getting a hit.
 
“When you score four runs without a hit you better win the game,” Mackanin said.
 
The Phillies were able to do that because Cameron Rupp had three hits and scored two runs and reliever Edubray Ramos got four big outs, three via strikeout. Trade candidate Jeanmar Gomez closed out the game in a non-save situation.

“I wanted to win the game,” Mackanin said of his decision to use Gomez. “I didn’t want to take any chances with anyone else. I just wanted one of my best guys knowing that he’s well rested and we have a day off Monday.”
 
Not everyone will be off Monday. The front office will be working the phones as the minutes tick away until the 4 p.m. deadline. Vince Velasquez is in play (see story). Gomez could go. David Hernandez could go. And so could Hellickson. If this was his last start with the Phillies, he finished up with a win.

Best of MLB: Happ gets 14th win, Blue Jays take over 1st place

Best of MLB: Happ gets 14th win, Blue Jays take over 1st place

TORONTO -- With one big inning and another strong start from J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays moved into the AL East lead.

Happ won his eighth straight decision, Devon Travis homered and Toronto used a seven-run fifth to beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 Saturday, taking sole possession of first place for the first time since early April.

"There's still a lot of baseball left, but I feel we're starting to play good ball," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said.

Toronto, which won for the 16th time in 22 games, had not been alone atop its division since a 2-0 start. The Blue Jays have scored seven or more runs in an inning three times this season.

Kevin Pillar had two hits and drove in four runs to match his career high. Major league RBIs leader Edwin Encarnacion drove in his 89th run (see full recap).

Giants find just enough offense for rare win since break
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence is healthy at last. Joe Panik has been back a few days from a concussion and is driving in runs again. The San Francisco Giants sure are starting to look like themselves again.

Oh, with that new face in the infield of Eduardo Nunez.

Panik hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, Nunez had a two-run double in his first start with San Francisco and the Giants snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Saturday.

Pence was activated from the disabled list after missing 48 games with a strained right hamstring that required surgery.

"It's huge, just his presence in the lineup," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's one of our guys. In addition to the talent, he brings energy and all those intangibles. He charged up the troops being out there (see full recap)."

De La Rosa, Rockies win 5th straight, Mets lose 4th in row
NEW YORK -- Jorge De La Rosa earned his 100th career victory and the Colorado Rockies eventually caught up with Bartolo Colon, beating the New York Mets 7-2 on a rainy Saturday night for their fifth straight win.

The Rockies improved to 12-4 since the All-Star break and won despite losing NL home run leader Trevor Story to a jammed left thumb. He seemed to get hurt on a scrambling slide in the fourth, exited early and X-rays on the rookie shortstop were negative.

On the day the Mets retired Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza's No. 31, the Mets lost their fourth in row. The 43-year-old Colon (9-6) faltered in his first start on three days' rest since 2005, and slugger Yoenis Cespedes left in midgame because of a nagging quad injury (see full recap).

Rea injured in Miami debut, Marlins win 11-0
MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins' big win might have come with a price.

Newly acquired Colin Rea left early with an elbow injury in his Miami debut in the Marlins' 11-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.

"We obviously needed the win, but it's not at that cost," Marlins reliever David Phelps said. "Hopefully, it's nothing, but you never like to see a starter come out of the game when you're strapped for starters to begin with."

Rea, acquired in a trade with San Diego, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.

"I kind of felt something in my elbow and it gradually got worse throughout the game," Rea said. "I don't know if I could have thrown another pitch, but we'll see. We don't know anything yet."

Rea initially felt a pain in his arm during warm-ups before the game, but tried to pitch through it (see full recap).