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Nnamdi Asomugha Will Likely Set The Market For Free Agent Cornerbacks

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With the language being worked out between teams of lawyers, the labor dispute between the owners and players appears closer to a conclusion every day. A coffee injected reaction of news about free agent signings, rookie signings, undrafted free agents, all the while training camp is scheduled to start within this month, will be coming in force. Obviously we have the headlines we're looking for. Johnathan Joseph, Cedric Benson and Brandon Johnson to name a few. Will Chad Ochocinco be released? Will Carson Palmer stick to his guns and retire or will he have an 11th hour change of heart -- like every other athlete -- and return to mentor Andy Dalton due to a verbal agreement from Mike Brown that will offer Palmer a chance to leave town later?

The insanity of what's to come will punch us like the season finale of Breaking Bad (which returns in ten days). Hardcore preparation is the only avenue we have now. Promoting possible scenarios without the arrogance of an old maiden looking into a crystal ball and seeing shining golden paper plates hung from the torn tapestry, blocking the view of our favorite regional trailer park.

But it's just not our own players we focus on. No. For example cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, perhaps the biggest free agent this year could command nearly $19 million a year, according to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora. A three-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro player, Asomugha will be the biggest free agent when the new league year begins.

Of course the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be interesting in its own right. A variable to the equation. If NFL owners are forced to spend around 95% of the salary cap, that only stacks higher the mountain of cash for a coveted free agent like Asomugha. According to ESPN sources, the percentage that teams are forced to spend, based on the spending floor, could force the Bengals to spend as much as $54 million, if Palmer retires and Chad Ochocinco leaves.

Now let's go back to La Canfora's conjecture on Asomugha's annual salary. We're not tied into the league well enough to corroborate or dispute La Canfora's subjective analysis that, maybe, could be considered a little dramatic. At the same time, if his projection holds true, then what's to say that Johnathan Joseph's value doesn't reach beyond the $14 million range; a figure we don't see someone like Mike Brown agreeing to.

If the Bengals have $54 million available to them for free agency, as some are claiming, then it's more than likely other teams will have plenty of stored cash to spend. With an increasing value on the biggest free agent prize playing the same position as Joseph, it could skyrocket Joseph's value.

Mike Brown, singing some Christmas Grinch song while you're reading this post, isn't historically known for paying high value players that the team drafted; unless of course they're over the hill or dealing with a series of injuries. Asomugha takes a massive contract, perhaps the biggest by any defensive back in the history of the NFL, increases the money that Joseph would see being waved at him from eager General Managers looking for a quick turnaround.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks talks about this, writing that Asomugha isn't worthy of a massive contract, simply because of his lack of impact on defense; though he does acknowledge that Asomugha is "arguably the best cornerback in the game." But what happens when a coveted free agent hits the market. The Washington Redskins' get all silly wide-eyed while pulling out a dirty sock. With one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL last year, the Houston Texans are chasing.

But the question we have to have answered is, where does that leave Joseph?

Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com writes that Joseph could actually be the best cornerback to hit the free agent market this year. ESPN's John Clayton has already reported that the Seattle Seahawks could be a potential suitor, calling him a cheaper alternative to Asomugha. So cheap that it would only take $1 more than what the Bengals are offering to sign him (Clayton's words, not mine).

Is Joseph's fate tied to Asomugha? Considering he's often viewed as the best free agent cornerback, a position that Joseph plays, it's a safe bet. We can only imagine that if Asomugha breaks the bank, Joseph's value increases and the probability to sign the cornerback diminishes -- even if the Bengals have over $50 million to spend.