The Nnamdi Asomugha experiment (nightmare?) is finally over.
The overpriced cornerback was released by the Eagles Tuesday, just a few minutes before the official start of free agency at 4 p.m. Asomugha leaves after an unimpressive 32 games in the Eagles’ secondary. The move clears an estimated $11 million in cap space.
“Coach Kelly and I each had a chance to speak with Nnamdi earlier and he took the news with a lot of class,” said GM Howie Roseman. “We expected nothing less than that from him. He has been a true pro on and off the field for this organization and our community, and we wish him all the best as he continues his NFL career. In the end, coach and I both felt we needed to move in a different direction at the cornerback position for 2013 and beyond.”
Asomguha was the prize of the 2011 free-agent class and the Eagles rewarded him with a five-year, $60 million deal. With Asomugha and fellow free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lined up as the starting corners, the Eagles gave up the most passing touchdowns in the entire NFL (33) in 2012 and ninth-most (27) in 2011.
Asomugha, 31, was once thought to be one of the league’s elite corners. He never was — and finished with just four interceptions and an eventual benching.
“I’m very grateful for my time in Philadelphia and I want to thank the Eagles’ organization for the opportunity to play here,” Asomugha said in a statement. “It was an honor to play in such a great football city with such a passionate fan base, and I wish my former teammates and coaches the best next season.”
Asomugha will most likely go down as the biggest free-agent bust in Eagles history. Still, let’s take a look at some other high-profile moves that backfired:
» Chris Boniol: Are we really putting a kicker on this list? When a team decides to invest $2.45 million — it was over four years — in a one-hit wonder kicker, then yes. Boniol only hit 36-of-52 field goal attempts in his two seasons here.
» Nnamdi Asomugha: The prize of the 2011 free-agent class never panned out after breaking the bank on a five-year, $60 million deal. He’ll go down as one of the worst signings in NFL history. Then again, you could add almost anyone from that class (Ronnie Brown, Vince Young, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin) to the list.
» Jevon Kearse: It’s really hard to label Kearse a bust. After all, he was a vital cog in the Super Bowl year (7.5 sacks) and racked up 22 sacks in four seasons. The knock on Kearse was injuries got the best of him, and he never completely lived up to the eight-year, $66 million deal he originally inked.
Where do Birds go from here?
Nnamdi Asomugha is gone, and the Eagles have expressed no interest in bringing back free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. That means if the season started today, the Eagles would be forced to trot out two of the following players as their starting corners: Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes and/or Brandon Boykin. Yes, not exactly the stuff of legends — maybe not even serviceable starters on a bad team.
With the secondary in dire straits, look for the Birds to go hard after Sean Smith, while kicking the tires on a deal for Darrelle Revis. Sources have indicated that the Eagles have at least inquired about both.