ALAMEDA (AP) ― The final year Nnamdi Asomugha’s record contract with the Oakland Raiders is no longer in force because the cornerback didn’t reach certain incentives.
Raiders senior executive John Herrera confirmed an ESPN report on Sunday that the contract was voided, making Asomugha a free agent.
Asomugha signed a $45.3 million, three-year contract in February 2009 that made him the highest paid defensive back in NFL history. He was paid $28.5 million in the first two years of the contract.
The Raiders had an option for 2011, which would be worth either $16.8 million or the amount of the quarterback franchise tag, whichever is greater.
Asomugha’s contract had a clause that said his contract would be voided if he didn’t participate in more plays in 2010 than the previous year or improve his interception, fumble recovery or sack totals.
Asomugha missed two games with a sprained ankle so did not reach the playing time incentive. He also had no interceptions, fumble recovery or sacks. He had one interception, no fumble recoveries and no sacks in 2009.
The Raiders are not allowed to use the franchise tag on Asomugha to keep him in Oakland. The Raiders will now have to decide whether to shell out big money to keep their star cornerback or use it to shore up other positions.
“We have to wait on the ramifications of the new CBA to be able to move on,” Herrera said.
Oakland could have many other key free agents this offseason depending on the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour, safety Michael Huff, cornerback Stanford Routt, tight end Zach Miller, left guard Robert Gallery and running back Michael Bush are among the Raiders’ other potential free agents.
Asomugha is one of the league’s best man-to-man cornerbacks, with most teams choosing not to throw to his side of the field. Asomugha was targeted on just 33 pass attempts this season. He allowed 13 completions for 205 yards and no touchdowns, burnishing his reputation as a shutdown cornerback.
Asomugha was a first-round pick by the Raiders in 2003. After some struggles early in career as he moved from safety to cornerback, Asomugha has emerged as one of the league’s top cornerbacks the past five years. He was recently selected to his third straight Pro Bowl.
But despite the strong play from Asomugha, the Raiders have been unable to put a winning team on the field in his eight years in Oakland. The team lost at least 11 games for an NFL worst seven straight years in Asomugha’s first eight seasons before improving to 8-8 this year.
That improvement did not satisfy owner Al Davis, who announced last week that he would not pick up the option on coach Tom Cable’s contract. The Raiders are now searching for their sixth coach since 2003, with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson the leading contender.
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