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Monday, May 16, 2011
Asomugha in Tampa Bay? Why not?

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

In this Hot Button debate, John Clayton and I throw out possible landing spots for potential free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

Clayton throws out the Houston Texans. I go with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even though there’s been a lot of speculation Asomugha could end up in the NFC East.

Here’s part of what I wrote in making the case the Bucs could be a player for one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Tampa Bay isn't known as a big spender, but the Bucs are in a position to change that. Assuming that there's a new labor agreement in place, and that it will have a salary cap, the Bucs are going to be looking at the salary-cap floor. They currently have only about $62 million committed toward the 2011 salary cap. That's the lowest figure of any team. We don't know what the minimum will be yet, but the Bucs are going to have to spend some money to get there.

Ownership just might be willing to do that. The Bucs have an attendance issue. Even as the team improved and finished a surprising 10-6 last season, Raymond James Stadium failed to sell out once. One reason for fan apathy is that some feel the ownership won't spend big money to put a better product on the field.

Landing Asomugha could put an end to that perception, and he also would improve the product on the field. The Bucs are in good shape on offense with quarterback Josh Freeman, receiver Mike Williams and running back LeGarrette Blount. They've invested a lot in their defensive line in the past two drafts.

But there's an issue in the secondary. Aqib Talib is talented and young, and he's the team's best cornerback. But he's also been plagued by off-field troubles and his future is uncertain. Asomugha is more talented and proven than Talib. He also comes without headaches. Throw him out there with veteran Ronde Barber on the other side and let young corners E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis develop behind them.

And why should Asomugha want to come to Tampa Bay? The Bucs are on the rise, and he could be part of the kind of team he never had in Oakland. He could live in a place with great weather, play in a stadium with a great natural-grass field and not have to pay state income tax, because Florida doesn't have one. The Bucs have one other card up the sleeve -- coach Raheem Morris. Put him and Asomugha in a room and he may sign a contract within an hour or two. Morris is charming, charismatic and a former defensive backs coach.

This would be a perfect fit for the player and team.

Check out the entire package over on our NFL home page. We've even got a SportsNation poll on where Asomugha might land. At last check, the Bucs were a strong contender in that poll.