Although the 2011 NFL playoffs are officially underway, Bay Area sports has found a new way to butt in on the conversation. After a week that saw Jim Harbaugh sweep the site into a frenzy, we have a new topic of conversation: newly minted free agent Nnamdi Asomugha. The Oakland Raiders cornerback had certain incentives in his contract that were not met and because of that he will become a free agent when free agency begins at some unknown point in the future. Thanks to Delmuir for the preliminary FanPost on this, as well as brundylop's FanShot.
According to Adam Schefter, Nnamdi had certain incentives he had to reach otherwise his contract would void. Additionally, the language of Nnamdi's contract prevents the Raiders from franchising him, which is obviously a big deal. For those wondering about the contract, it was a three year $45.3 million contract that made him the highest paid DB in NFL history. To reach the necessary incentives, Nnamdi had to play in a greater number of defensive plays in 2010 than he did in 2009 or improve on his interceptions, fumble recoveries or sacks this season. He didn't have any of these this year. He missed two games due to injury and that cost him the defensive plays option.
Needless to say Raider Nation is not pleased with this development. When Nnamdi hits the market he'll be the most sought after defensive free agent, and possible overall free agent. I'd imagine the 49ers will be in the mix in some form or fashion. However, there are a couple things to consider. First is when free agency will actually start. Free agency is set to start I believe the first week/weekend in March. However, if a CBA has not been signed at that point, free agency will be delayed indefinitely.
While the NFL Draft will happen even without a CBA (the picks just won't be able to sign), free agency could be pushed well into the summer depending on how negotiations move along. If that's the case it will impact a lot of decisions because then teams will be drafting ahead of signing big name free agents, which is the opposite of the normal process. A guy like Nnamdi will still be pursued, but with a high pick in the upcoming draft, do the 49ers go with a cornerback anyway?
The other issue is of course the money. What's it going to cost to sign arguably the best cornerback in the NFL? Maybe it won't be a record-breaking contract like his previous deal, but it's going to be pricey. Much of this will depend on the cap numbers after a new CBA is announced. A big issue has been the percentage distribution of revenues between players and owners, which affects the salary cap. Does the team want to invest a big chunk of money in one player at this point? It's a hard point to argue at this point given the labor uncertainty, but it's something that will have to be considered at some point down the road.