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Monday, July 18, 2011
Reading Asomugha tea leaves

By Bill Williamson

There have been several reports in recent weeks stating that specific teams don’t plan to break the bank for Oakland free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. He is expected to be the best player on the market.

Let’s break down exactly what those reports might mean when free agency begins:

It just takes one: That is a popular saying in the NFL. It just takes one team to make a move. If one team wants to spend big dollars on a shutdown cornerback like Asomugha, it will and he will get huge dollars. I think that will be the case.

Why would anyone tip their hand? I wouldn’t expect teams to leak word that they are planning to spend big on Asomugha. Free agency is a competition and teams might be playing games here by sending out word that they won’t splurge for Asomugha. I suspect gamesmanship is at work here.

The market will set itself: We’re going to know very quickly in free agency whether there will be major competition for Asomugha. Usually, the best players get snapped up on the first day of free agency. So, teams won't have time to wait and see if they can get Asomugha for a bargain price.

What it means to the Raiders? I know the general consensus is that Asomugha is leaving. I tend to believe it, but I also won’t truly believe the Raiders won’t keep Asomugha until he signs elsewhere even though there have been plenty of hints this offseason that Asomugha will leave. If the market for Asomugha is not overly hot, of course, that would increase the Raiders’ chances of keeping him. The Raiders will have some salary-cap limitations, so they won’t be able to set any records in an attempt to keep Asomugha. But if the money isn’t big elsewhere, perhaps Asomugha would give the Raiders a hometown discount. So, the Raiders and their fans must hope these reports are accurate.