Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Updated: July 28, 11:25 PM ET
Sources: Jets eye Nnamdi Asomugha
By Rich Cimini
The New York Jets addressed their No. 1 free-agent priority by finalizing a five-year, $50 million contract Wednesday morning with Santonio Holmes, sources said, but that doesn't mean they're out of the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes. Far from it.
The Jets have intensified their efforts to sign the former Oakland Raiders cornerback, according to league sources. If the Jets have their way, they could have Asomugha in the fold by the end of the day, culminating one of the biggest daily doubles in free-agent history.
But that won't be easy because the Jets are receiving stiff competition from the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, according to sources.
The Jets have expressed interest in re-signing cornerback Antonio Cromartie, but they're intrigued by the possibility of an Asomugha-Darrelle Revis tandem in the backfield, according to sources.
Asomugha received an enthustiastic endorsement from Revis.
"He's the best cornerback in the league," Revis told reporters Wednesday. "Me and him as a tandem would be unbelievable. It would be awesome. I would love to have him as a teammate."
Revis, who considers Asomugha a friend, said he spoke to him just recently but claimed it wasn't a recruiting call. Revis was diplomatic when asked if he prefers Asomugha or Cromartie, adding, "(Cromartie) has been a part of this team and this defense, but the talk going on right now, the focus is Nnamdi Asomugha."
The Jets are also showing interest in second-tier corners such as Chris Carr (Baltimore Ravens) and Drayton Florence (Buffalo Bills).
It's unclear how much the Jets will bid for Asomugha, whose asking price probably exceeds Revis' $11.5 million annual salary, but general manager Mike Tannenbaum is known for creative deals -- and the Jets are on a Super Bowl-or-bust mission.
Revis said if Asomugha signs with the Jets, "our pass defense is going to be sky high."
If Asomugha is looking for the most money, it probably rules out the Jets, but he reportedly might be willing to take less to play in New York and for a contender.
"We all know this is a business," said Revis, who missed training camp last summer while embroiled in a bitter contract holdout before signing.
The Jets are snug against the salary cap, and they also have to decide if they want to pour additional big money into the cornerback position. If they do, they'd probably have to make sacrifices. On the flip side, coach Rex Ryan's defense revolves around cornerback play, and he'd have one of the best tandems in recent memory with Revis and Asomugha.
On Tuesday, quarterback Mark Sanchez said he'd be willing to restructure his contract, which has three years remaining, to create more cap room. As of Wednesday morning, the team hadn't approached him about reworking his deal, according to a source.
Jets owner Woody Johnson, in an interview Tuesday with 1050 ESPN New York, declined to comment on whether they're interested in Asomugha. He played it coy, saying they're always looking for ways to improve the team.
Asomugha is said to be fond of Ryan, and he's friendly with Revis. Two years ago at the Pro Bowl, they talked about one day playing together, which created headlines. At the time, Asomugha was under contract to the Raiders.
"We've always spoke as friends, but we even spoke about it at the Pro Bowl, about playing on the same team," Revis said. "Nnamdi, he knows where he wants to play and what's the best fit for him and what he wants to do with his career."
The Jets may have another built-in advantage -- the New York market. ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, a guest Tuesday on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio, said Asomugha is intrigued with New York because he wants to get into acting when his NFL career is over.
Revis also said he would accept wide receiver Randy Moss if the team went out and signed him. The two have made comments about each other in the past, especially while Moss was on the New England Patriots, and Revis called him "a slouch" for his lack of effort at times.
"Randy, you respect a guy like him," Revis said. "Words are words. We know sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.