NFL Nation: Ndamdi Asomugha

Some of you might already have seen John Clayton's projection of the NFL's 2011 salary cap, which will return at least some teams to the era of cap-induced cuts and adjustments after years of escalated spending.

Clayton estimates a 2011 cap of $120 million for each team. That's about a six percent drop from the most recent cap in 2009, and it would require adjustments for two NFC North teams in order to be compliant. Below is a look at the cap status of all four of our teams along with some thoughts on potential impact:

Chicago Bears
Cap status:
About $37 million under

Comment: If anything, the Bears will have to spend significantly in order to exceed the cap "floor," or the minimum expenditure required. Regardless, all indications have been that the Bears are prepared to be active in free agency. At least one starting-caliber offensive lineman should be on their shopping list.

Detroit Lions
Cap status:
About $16.5 million under
Comment: The Lions are positioned to pursue cornerbacks and/or linebackers on the free agent market. But the big question everyone is asking: Can they fit cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha under the cap? The answer, as always in the case of the salary cap, is yes. Any one player can be squeezed in as long as the team is comfortable with the consequences. The Lions would need to make a priority judgment on whether Asomugha is worth the cap percentage he would consume or if they should use it on multiple other players.

Green Bay Packers
Cap status:
About $62,000 under
Comment: As Clayton notes, the Packers have a couple relatively easy fixes. They seem likely to part ways with linebacker Nick Barnett, saving $4.4 million against the cap. Right tackle Mark Tauscher's presumed departure would erase another $4.5 million. And in reality, the Packers' biggest upcoming expenditures will be signing their draft class and probably kicker Mason Crosby.

Minnesota Vikings
Cap status:
About $5.1 million over
Comment: Clayton suggests two fixes: Releasing receiver Bernard Berrian and extending the contract of tailback Adrian Peterson, who is scheduled for a monster base salary of $10.72 million. Coach Leslie Frazier said this offseason that he wants Berrian to return, and extending Peterson will be a delicate, complex and time-consuming project. You at least have to wonder how active the Vikings will be on the free agent market.
From an NFC North perspective, I found myself in a bit of a box while power ranking the cornerback position this week.

[+] EnlargeTramon Williams
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesTramon Williams' play down the stretch helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV.
On more than one occasion last season, I suggested that cornerback Tramon Williams was the Green Bay Packers' top pass defender. In December, it was my contention that Williams was the most deserving Pro Bowl candidate in a Packers secondary that also included fellow cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins.

It wasn't a slight on Woodson or Collins, but rather a belief that Williams had developed into an elite-level cover man who was probably a year or so away from national recognition of what we in the NFC North saw all season. So when it came down to vote, I felt I had to stay true to that belief -- Williams ahead of Woodson -- while also accounting for some of the other top cornerbacks around the NFL.

I felt pretty strongly about Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Champ Bailey as my top four cornerbacks. So, ultimately, the highest I could get Williams was No. 5 overall. It was the top ranking he received in an exercise that ultimately placed him No. 7. (Had I voted him lower, Williams would have finished no better than No. 8.) If there were any doubts about Williams' value, you should remember he sealed two of the Packers' four playoff games -- including the Super Bowl XLV -- with strong plays on the ball.

But after placing Williams at No. 5, I was forced to give Woodson his lowest ranking at No. 6 overall. (He finished No. 4). That left another deserving NFC North cornerback, the Minnesota Vikings' Antoine Winfield, at No. 7. Winfield finished No. 6 overall despite his absence on two ballots.

So in the end, my rankings helped maneuver Williams to a spot I strongly think he deserves and hurt neither Woodson nor Winfield. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

For the record, my full ballot is below. I didn't vote for Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, who appeared on one ballot and technically finished tied for No. 15 overall.

  1. Darrelle Revis
  2. Nnamdi Asomugha
  3. Asante Samuel
  4. Champ Bailey
  5. Tramon Williams
  6. Charles Woodson
  7. Antoine Winfield
  8. DeAngelo Hall
  9. Antonio Cromartie
  10. Devin McCourty

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