The San Francisco 49ers figure to get the best Nnamdi Asomugha can offer after the veteran cornerback accepted a reported one-year, $1.35 million deal with the team Tuesday. The question is, what can he offer?
Asomugha, a Pro Bowl choice with Oakland from 2008 through 2010, must play well during the 2013 season to restore his reputation as a cornerback worth starter's money. More immediately, he must show well in training camp to earn a roster spot.
Don't let Asomugha's former Pro Bowl credentials fool you. The contract he signed means Asomugha will earn less than the $2.25 million Randy Moss commanded from the 49ers in 2012 after sitting out a full season. Moss gave the 49ers a huge name. He made positive contributions on the field. But he was an old Randy Moss, not the Randy Moss of old.
Asomugha is doing just fine financially, of course. His former team, the Philadephia Eagles, owes him $4 million in guaranteed money this year. Personal finances aren't the story here. What the $1.35 million represents is the story. It represents a safe bet for the 49ers.
Carlos Rogers is the 49ers' highest-paid cornerback at $7.3 million per year. Tarell Brown is next at $3 million annually. Chris Culliver's low average ($659,719 per year) reflects his status as a third-round draft choice playing out his rookie contract.
Tramaine Brock, who played mostly on special teams, is earning $1.323 million as a restricted free agent. Perrish Cox, who initially pushed Culliver in practices last offseason, is also part of the cornerback mix. His deal pays $510,000 per year.
Asomugha, 31, has an impressive pedigree despite two down seasons with Philadelphia. He was once considered among the very best corners in the game. He stands 6-foot-2 and has the potential to add another dimension to the 49ers' secondary.
Asomugha could shake up the depth chart and even win a starting job in San Francisco. But the money he's getting from San Francisco says the 49ers aren't so sure. It says Asomugha must earn his standing on the team.
This is a no-risk deal for the 49ers. They can't lose by signing Asomugha to such a reasonable contract, but they have not won on the deal, at least not yet.