Are the Lions on Nnamdi’s Short List?

>> 6.24.2011

So analyst Gil Brandt said the Lions are a serious contender for the services of Nnamdi Asomugha:

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they make a big play for Asomugha,” Brandt said. “And I think he would consider the situation in Detroit and playing for Jim Schwartz, who has won the respect of his team. A cornerback’s best friend is a great defensive line, and right now the Lions have a pretty good group of defensive linemen.”

Predictably, the Lions-y corners of the Interwebs (and Twitter) caught fire with the idea that Detroit could make Nnamdi’s shortlist. Now, the last time Brandt spouted off about the Lions, he boldly predicted the Lions’ draft strategy . . . and was spot on:

“Everybody seems to think it’s an offensive lineman,” Brandt said. “I have a little bit of a connection with your head coach there (Jim Schwartz), and I don’t think that they will take an offensive lineman. I personally don’t know who it’s going to be, but I think it’s probably going to be a defensive player.”

Now, I’ve gone on the record on this before. I believe Nnamdi Asomugha would be a perfect fit for the Lions’ defense, and—whether or not Chris Houston sticks around—plays a position where the Lions need to acquire a starter. There’s no doubt that he’d be a perfect complement to the Silver Rush; the fearsome pass rush coming from the defensive line would shorten the time he needs to apply his blanketing coverage—and his coverage would allow the rush more time to strike home. The pick package the Lions offered to Arizona for the chance to draft Patrick Peterson shows how much they’d love to add a big, fast, physical cover corner—so could it happen?

It's time to say hi to our long lost friend, Cap Space. Remember Cap Space? He always used to show up whenever we’d talk football, and now it’s time to get reacquainted with him. Nnamdi Asomugha is going to want to blow out the curve in salary—and while the Fords haven’t shied away from writing checks their front office men ask them to write, you’re talking about an enormous investment in a 30-year-old player at a position that Schwartz hasn’t traditionally valued.

The identity of this team is a high-powered offense paired with a world-devouring defensive line; that’s where the Lions have consistently spent their money and picks over the past three seasons. They may well be about to let Chris Houston, a productive young veteran they acquired for peanuts, walk out the door, if he asks for more than they think he’s worth. Would they really break the bank for 30-year-old Nnamdi, even if he’s one of the best corners in the world? I don’t think so.

Now. We all thought we had the Lions’ draft plans figured out, and they completely threw us a curveball. It could well be that Gunther Cunningham shows up on Nnamdi’s doorstep at midnight with a basket of summer sausage or something, who knows. For now though, look for the Lions to set their sights a little lower. Honestly, I think I’d rather have Chris Houston and Antonio Cromartie than Nnamdi Asomugha and, likely, Nate Vasher.


sJe,  June 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM  

I agree. For me, it comes down to the stage of development the Lions are in right now. If they were a Super Bowl contender already, I'd be all for it. If Nnamdi was that one missing piece, I'd say do it.

But right now, even with Asonugha, I think this team is at least three (maybe two with NA) years away from that. Though he would most certainly make a difference for this football team, his age and contract worry me, as a guy coming to a very young, developing team.

I realize he could be a nice mentor to the young DBs, but once this team is ready to contend for Super Bowls, he would no longer be the player on the football field that just three years ago garnered a mammoth contract.

That contract is what would deter me the most. It would really limit what the organization could do in the next few (five) years, as far as far as continue to improve and develop a very young team. This is still a team in progress, and that progress has been quite good so far. I don't like the idea of gambling more future progress.

And no matter how good that player is, he plays a postion, as you said, that Jim Schwartz doesn't traditionally value all that highly.

TY in WI,  June 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM  

Gil Brandt did mock Nick Fairley to the Lions, so he has some brain cells to work with.
Charles Woodson signed a 7 year $52 million contract near the same age as NA is now ~ 29.
Perhaps the Packers were closer to a SB then than the Lions are now, but it took them 5 years to get it.
Woodson is still a great asset to that team, and I would bet that NA would be a greater asset to the Lions if he were to sign.

Dane Johnson,  June 25, 2011 at 2:19 PM  

I agree. I'd rather see us bringing in a high quality LB and add depth to the cornerback position.
Two Houston-quality type of players would get us further than Nnamdi and a couple of chunks.
Other teams like Pittsburgh have shown you can do without the uberqaulity corner.

And I'd rather have us get our basics right (including getting Avril tied up long term, and build further through the draft...

I wonder, looking at this year's draft, how much of foresight went into the decisions made, i.e., did we draft offensively as we anticipate a stronger class coming up 2012 for the positions we need, i.e., cornerbacks and linebackers? The first projections for the 2012 draft, currently present some more first round linebackers and corners as this years draft had on offer.

Anonymous,  June 25, 2011 at 2:49 PM  

We Ready!

Mike,  June 27, 2011 at 1:36 AM  

To be fair, the fact that the Lions were trying to package together a big trade up to get Peterson pretty much says that they desire a NA-style shutdown corner.

Also, I think the whole "the Lions are still a minimum of 2-3 years from a Super Bowl shot" still shows a bit of Lions-fan reservation. I really do think with a bit of luck and some good personnel moves post-CBA and we could contend this year.

Having said all that, I doubt the allure of Asomugha is going to shine so brightly in Mayhew/Schwartz's eyes that they would drop more resources into him than he's worth. If that's what the case is, Cromartie/Houston would be a great second option.

Big Al - the Bundy experience,  June 27, 2011 at 6:02 AM  

Nnamdi Asomugha attended college at the University of California and Mayhew has shown a definite interest in Golden Bear players, Follett and Best.

The lockout year and GMs have to plan for all conditions, i.e. the lockout may/may not be resolved before the draft, or may/may not be resolved until after the draft. Obviously we all know which scenario the GMs are in now, but when tendering free agents no one knew.

Avril is a good player with a bright future, but to be tendered at a 1st and 3rd round level seems to me a tad high. So yes, it was reported that the Lions tried to trade up for Peterson and it was also reported that Mayhew didnt have enough ammo to get the deal done. My contention is that if the lockout were resolved prior to the draft ... that Avril would have been part of the package for the trade up to draft Peterson.

Mayhew, since management and players cant talk with each other during the lockout, has repeated used the press to express the Lions' message that they want to sign Avril back to the Lions. But when Mayhew says that, I'm not certain whether or not Mayhew means sign & trade or resign Avril to an extension to play on the Lions?

The much maligned William Clay Ford is aged between 85 and 90 ... the new Lions regime has expressed both that they want to win sooner rather than later as they want to repeatedly win and be a good team for the long haul. The Lions haven't completed the 2012 yet.

I've said all the above to say this. Mayhew has a history of making trades for players on the last year of their contract. And now that the draft has past, the fan base is looking for a free agent among this pool to build upon their defensive back 7, and certainly Nnamdi Asomugha is the highest profile free agent at his position.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Mayhew makes a trade for secondary help involving Avril and use free agency for linebacker help.

Mike,  June 27, 2011 at 10:03 AM  

@Big Al The only problem I can see with that is I can't think of a team with a high profile to good CB that would part ways with for an up and coming DE. Avril is good, and he can possibly be great, but I believe that trading him now will only bring in average talent at CB, a definite downgrade in the overall talent level. Upgrades to starting slots will more than likely come through FA while Mayhew uses trades to upgrade depth and set up for next year's draft.

Matt,  June 27, 2011 at 11:13 AM  

Totally agree with this:

"Also, I think the whole "the Lions are still a minimum of 2-3 years from a Super Bowl shot" still shows a bit of Lions-fan reservation. I really do think with a bit of luck and some good personnel moves post-CBA and we could contend this year."

Adding Nnamdi and assuming Houston's return, how are the Lions not contenders (on paper, obviously) right now? It might be 2 or 3 seasons before we WIN a Super Bowl, but I can't see how someone would put legitimate contention still that far down the road. The pieces are pretty much all in place. Some of them are still developing and will be even better in a couple years, but they're pretty stinking good today. Every time I read/hear someone analyzing Nnamdi-to-the-Lions the phrase "if he were the last piece of the puzzle" pops up. Isn't he?

randomguy313,  June 27, 2011 at 8:51 PM  

I would also throw Ike Taylor in the mix of potential free agents. All indications are that he is done in Pittsburgh.

Nmandi may be a pipe dream, but I would say that Ike would be a substantial piece to this defense.

Ty,  June 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM  

sJe, Mike, Matt--

Yeah, I don't believe the Lions have to spend two more years sitting around waiting to be contenders. As I'm fond of pointing out, they were a terrible call and some broken quarterbacks away from going .500 or better this season; they've unquestionably added talent and (as long as Houston stays or is replaced) aren't done getting better. To me, the "championship contention" window opens this season. If they're not already One Great Player Away from winning a Super Bowl, then they're at least no more than One Great Player Away from the playoffs.


Farmerted,  June 28, 2011 at 1:02 PM  

A basket of Summer Sausage?

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