Asante, Asomugha, and Apocryphal Aces

Asante Samuel Nnamdi Asomugha Philadelphia Eagles

Right before free agency began, I started to write a post about what the Eagles could learn from the Phillies. I noted some of the similarities between two front offices that in recent years have been aggressive as well as value-oriented. But I also pointed out that the Eagles might do well to follow the cross town example of Ruben Amaro, who has no qualms about going for it all without qualification.

At the end of the post, I was going to recommend that the Eagles look seriously into signing Nnamdi Asomugha, despite my previous reservations. Adding him, in tandem with Asante Samuel, was as close a move as I could come up with to the Phillies signing Cliff Lee to assemble the Four Aces. Of course, what I didn’t anticipate was that the Eagles would actually follow through on that unpublished suggestion.

Unfortunately, after Samuel’s press conference yesterday, it has become clear that the Eagles may have learned the wrong lesson from the Phils. To put it bluntly, I don’t expect Asante Samuel to still be in Philly a week from now. As I’ve said in other places, this looks a lot like a “trade for Halladay, trade away Lee” deal.

And that’s a shame. There’s a reason the Phillies reversed course and resigned Lee last offseason. Plus, I’m just not sure what the Eagles can get for Asante at this stage. As far as I can tell, the Eagles valued Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as a second round pick. Samuel is certainly worth more than that. As a consistent Pro Bowler and interception machine, Samuel should command a first round pick in 2012 (only worth a 2011 second rounder) plus something else, like another player or mid round pick. Is any team going to be willing to pay that price?

Hedging bets to be competitive today and in the future has made the Eagles a paragon of consistency. But sometimes you have to break your own rules. Reward requires some risk.

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A couple more notes about the deal.

First, watching Asomugha’s press conference, you can tell he might be the more articulate player to take the microphone in Philly in at least the last decade. Not to slight other geniuses in the locker room, but the man used “apocryphal” in a sentence. He’s raising the bar on and off the field.

Additionally, check out this quote:

I did it the way I like to do it, making the decision early. So that decision was made in March. So once we made that decision, we put all the pieces together, marked off the boxes, saw what we thought was the best fit — when that comes around full circle, you got to go with it.

Was that Nnamdi describing his free agency decision, or Howie Roseman describing the Eagles offseason process? Perfectly in sync.

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Finally, I think if the Eagles do keep Asante, they run the risk of discovering that either he or Nnamdi isn’t quite as good as they thought. When you have one great corner, all the passes can be funneled to the other side. But two great corners means teams will be forced to choose. Whoever they choose would be the weaker link.

Photo from Getty.