Along with the great playoff action we watched over the weekend, surprising news surfaced out of Oakland. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's three-year contract that he signed in February 2009 is void after the cornerback failed "achieve his not-likely-to-be-earned incentives" in 2010, making him an unrestricted free agent. An additional stipulation in the deal said that Asomugha can not be designated a franchise or transition player.
Asomugha becomes the top defensive player available in free agency.
The obvious question for Bengals fans is: What does this mean for Johnathan Joseph?
Heading into this year's offseason, Joseph is one of several cornerbacks scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, which includes names like Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Antonio Cromartie, Ike Taylor, Brent Grimes and Carlos Rogers.
Before Asomugha was believed to hit free agency, one could have argued that Joseph would have been one of the few cornerbacks that would have drawn the big money attraction. Asomugha entering free agency is like a magnet with money-throwing teams looking for a new toy; rest assured that any team with the financial clout to dump money into the best cornerback available, will do it without hesitation for the services of an elite shutdown cornerback.
This essentially knocks off the team most willing to dump exorbitant amounts of money into the best cornerback available, pushing Cincinnati's chances of re-signing their 2006 first round pick to a long-term deal.
On the other hand, if a team dumps money in Asomugha's lap -- and there's no reason to expect they won't -- a deal with Joseph could also make it tough for the Cincinnati Bengals. Joseph's agent could use Asomugha's deal as a starting point during negotiations, which if we suspect will be in the Darrelle Revis region -- which begins with $16.25 million/year during the first two years of the deal -- also making it a distant reality that Cincinnati brings Joseph back.
It would seem like the only real option for the Bengals could be using the franchise tag, paying him the average salary of the five highest paid cornerbacks in 2010, but then Cincinnati would be forced into the difficult position of having Joseph, Leon Hall and Adam Jones have expiring contracts after the 2011 season.
Or the team could let Joseph leave for free agency and use their fourth overall draft pick on a player like Patrick Peterson (or Prince Amukamara) to replace him in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Either way, Asomugha heading into free agency will affect Joseph's next deal, with Cincinnati or elsewhere.