Make no mistake about it, the Green Bay Packers are in the cornerback market.
Al Harris is rehabilitating a major knee injury and behind Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, who ended the season as the starters, the Packers are thin. There has been speculation the Packers might be interested in acquiring San Diego’s Antonio Cromartie, who is available via trade. But Cromartie, who would be nothing more than a nickel back, only addresses the Packers secondary depth and does nothing to find long-term replacements for Harris, who is 35, and Woodson, who is 33.
In the past few days, two of the top cornerbacks in the league have become available and if the Packers choose to be aggressive and/or creative, they could land one of them. And I stress the word could.
As usual, the Oakland Raiders are trying to trade any and everyone on their roster. This year, however, that list includes cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is widely considered the best one-on-one cover corner in the league behind the New York Jets Darrelle Revis.
Asomugha will be 29 when the 2010 season starts and pairing him with Woodson would be a dream. There’s only one problem – his contract. It includes an $8 million roster bonus due on March 5 and a $7.83 million option bonus due on March 19. In addition to that, Asomugha’s contract voids after 2011 unless he’s paid $16.8 million or the franchise tag for a quarterback, whichever is higher.
In other words, the Packers would never trade for this guy because the Raiders front office contains a bunch of idiots. The only way the Packers, or anyone else, would be willing to take Asomugha is if he agreed to a restructured long-term deal that makes some sort of sense. That’s unlikely, considering he’s going to be paid like a king just to play out his sentence in Oakland.
A slightly higher possibility is Houston Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson, whom the Texans announced they would not franchise for the second consecutive season. Robinson, who will be 28 at the start of the 2010 season, will be free to sign with any team on March 5.
Although he isn’t in the same league as Asomugha or Revis, Robinson is a No. 1 corner on most teams in the NFL. He’s also the No. 1 cornerback in free agency and competition for his services will be fierce. Robinson turned down $23 million guaranteed from the Texans last year, so it’s conceivable he’ll be looking for and someone will be willing to pay $10 million per season to lock up his services.
The Packers are unlikely to dive into free agency by throwing that kind of money at Robinson. General manager Ted Thompson just doesn’t roll that way.
However, once in a blue moon, Thompson does actually make a play for someone of worth. In 2006, he gave $52 million to Woodson and $14 million to Ryan Pickett. Last offseason he targeted Dallas Cowboys’ defensive end Chris Canty before the New York Giants decided to overpay him ($42 million, $17.25 guaranteed) to play on their craptacular defensive line.
While we’d term the Packers’ chances of obtaining either player as slim, maybe this is the year Thompson gets off his ass and signs someone in free agency. It has happened once before.