I'm well aware that we don't know when - or even if - free agency will begin this offseason. But this little nugget from Michael Lombardi was just too tasty to let it go by.
Hidden in this really good piece on NFL.com, Lombardi discusses where free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha might end up in 2011. We know the Jets have interest - though it remains to be seen if they have the money available to make a serious run. Lombardi also adds that Asomugha should go to a team that plays "press man-to-man coverage."
And then there's the money quote.
"I could see Miami, New England and Green Bay all being a great fit since each will have a ton of cap room and the scheme that fits Asomugha," writes Lombardi. "In fact, most teams will be in play for Asomugha, and his decision will not be based on money or scheme, but rather where he feels most comfortable and can make the playoffs."
So let's think a bit about this and consider the three aspects Lombardi touches on.
1. Scheme. There's no question that Asomugha is one of the very best press corners in the league. As Lombardi writes, he needs to go to a scheme that would highlight his skill set. Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan runs the kind of defense that would suit the star corner, that's for sure.
2. Cap room. Now we know that there wasn't a cap in 2010 and might not even be a cap ever again. If there is no cap, then the Dolphins would be working from whatever internal budget owner Stephen Ross decides on. From what I can tell, Ross is dead set on winning and I would expect him to open up his wallet as needed to make the Dolphins a winner. If there is a cap, the Dolphins would be in good shape, too. According to ESPN, the Dolphins would currently rank about right in the middle of the league in terms of cap space. The report says the Dolphins have committed $103.1 million to players in 2011. What would the cap be if it came back? In 2009, it was about $130 million. So the Dolphins would likely have over $30 million to play with in the event a salary cap returns - more than enough to make a play on Asomugha.
3. Team success. I think that final sentence regarding Asomugha's destination from Lombardi is critical. Nnamdi has spent his entire career stuck on a lousy team without ever even sniffing the playoffs. Week in and week out, Asomugha has gone out and played at an extremely high level knowing that there was little chance his team would come out on top. During Asomugha's tenure in Oakland, the Raiders are 37-91. So you know he's going to want to go to a winner, a team that has a serious chance at competing for not just the playoffs but a championship. Could the Dolphins actually convince him that Miami is that team?
Of course, all of this above is moot if one key element is missing - interest from the Dolphins. Right now, nobody has reported anything to make you think the Dolphins have a strong interest in the star free agent cornerback. After all, the Dolphins already have two very good young corners who are standing on the brink of being considered one of the very best corner tandems in the entire league.
So what makes us think that GM Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins are even interested in Nnamdi right now?
Maybe if the Dolphins were thinking about using one of their two young corners - Sean Smith or Vontae Davis - as trade bait to land a quarterback, they might then have serious interest (as Marc Kohn pointed out on Twitter). But right now? I just don't see it. Considering the holes this team has, it just wouldn't make any sense.