The Philadelphia Eagles now have no choice but to try to corner the free-agent market.
Both of their starting cornerbacks in 2012 left the team Tuesday. Minutes before Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie became an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m., the Eagles released Nnamdi Asomugha.
“I’m very grateful for my time in Philadelphia and I want to thank the Eagles organization for the opportunity to play here,” Asomugha said Tuesday in a statement issued to the Philadelphia Daily News. “It was an honor to play in such a great football city with such a passionate fan base, and I wish my former teammates and coaches the best next season.”
Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha both lasted just two seasons with the Eagles, though there is a chance Rodgers-Cromartie will re-sign with the team. He has scheduled a visit with the Denver Broncos this week, but made the Pro Bowl with Arizona in 2009 while playing for new Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
Asomugha may have also returned had he agreed to take a paycut. Hailed as the best available free agent in 2011, Asomugha signed a six-year, $60 million contract with the Eagles that included $25 million guaranteed. He was scheduled to make $15 million this season, including a $4 million guarantee that the Eagles still have to pay him.
But he never came close to living up to that deal. A three-time Pro Bowler with Oakland, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder struggled under Eagles defensive coordinators Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles. He played 32 games for the Eagles, registering 107 tackles, four interceptions and 20 pass knockdowns. He had just one interception last season, when the Eagles stumbled to a 4-12 record.
“We spoke to his representatives at the combine (in Indianapolis earlier this month) about his future status with the team and wanted to take time to analyze and make a decision,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a statement. “In the end, coach (Chip Kelly) and I both felt we needed to move in a different direction at the cornerback position for 2013 and beyond.”
Asomugha, 31, became the fourth player to be released by the Eagles this offseason, following tackle Demetress Bell, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and defensive tackle Mike Patterson. Jenkins signed with the New York Giants on Sunday. Asomugha’s departure also left guard Evan Mathis as the only member of the Eagles’ infamous 2011 free-agent class still on the team.
Tuesday’s moves originally left Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes and Trevard Lindley, who signed a futures contract with the team, as the only cornerbacks on the Eagles’ roster, but the Eagles signed free agency Bradley Fletcher (St. Louis) later Tuesday. They could also be in the hunt for Sean Smith (Miami) and Antoine Winfield (Minnesota) and also could draft a cornerback.
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