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]

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).