Where's the best spot?


CB is a logical fit for young Bucs

Yasinskas By Pat Yasinskas

It seems a foregone conclusion that whenever the doors of free agency open, Nnamdi Asomugha is going to end up with one of those big-spending, big-market NFC East teams.

That's certainly possible. One alternate theory by John Clayton has Asomugha, one of the best cornerbacks in the business, going to the Houston Texans. But I'm going to throw out one other possible landing spot for Asomugha.

What about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

The Bucs might be the most logical fit for a guy who has spent his entire career in Oakland.

Tampa Bay isn't known as a big spender, but the Bucs are in a position to change that. Assuming that there's a new labor agreement in place, and that it will have a salary cap, the Bucs are going to be looking at the salary-cap floor. They currently have only about $62 million committed toward the 2011 salary cap. That's the lowest figure of any team. We don't know what the minimum will be yet, but the Bucs are going to have to spend some money to get there.

Ownership just might be willing to do that. The Bucs have an attendance issue. Even as the team improved and finished a surprising 10-6 last season, Raymond James Stadium failed to sell out once. One reason for fan apathy is that some feel the ownership won't spend big money to put a better product on the field.

Landing Asomugha could put an end to that perception, and he would improve the product on the field. The Bucs are in good shape on offense with quarterback Josh Freeman, receiver Mike Williams and running back LeGarrette Blount. They've invested a lot in their defensive line in the past two drafts.

But there's an issue in the secondary. Aqib Talib is talented and young, and he's the team's best cornerback. But he's also been plagued by off-field troubles, and his future is uncertain. Asomugha is more talented and proven than Talib. He also comes without headaches. Throw him out there with veteran Ronde Barber on the other side and let young corners E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis develop behind them.

But why should Asomugha want to come to Tampa Bay? The Bucs are on the rise, and he could be part of the kind of team he never had in Oakland. He could live in a place with great weather, play in a stadium with a great natural-grass field and not have to pay state income tax, because Florida doesn't have one. The Bucs have one other card up the sleeve: coach Raheem Morris. Put him and Asomugha in a room, and Asomugha may sign a contract within an hour or two. Morris is charming, charismatic and a former defensive backs coach.

This would be a perfect fit for the player and team.

Texans revamped D needs him

Clayton By John Clayton

The Houston Texans had the youngest secondary in football last season. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst in NFL history, giving up 4,499 yards, second-worst ever. Quarterbacks had a 100.5 quarterback rating against the Texans.

More than any team in football, the Texans need Nnamdi Asomugha, the longtime Raiders cornerback who will be available when free agency opens. They have an owner, Bob McNair, who could pay him. They have a defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, who would know how to use him. Plus, Asomugha is good enough to help the younger defensive backs get better.

He's the perfect fit coming at the perfect time. Coach Gary Kubiak is beloved by Texans ownership, but everyone knows Kubiak needs to get this franchise over the top and into the playoffs to keep his job. That's why McNair hired Phillips, who has a history of making one-year fixes on defenses and getting them shaped up for the playoffs.

Injuries handicapped Asomugha last season, but he had only 13 passes completed on him in 14 starts, none for touchdowns. Kareem Jackson, the Texans' first-round pick last season, had 50 passes completed against him. Asomugha has had only 52 passes completed against him in the past three seasons.

Giving Phillips a cornerback who can shut down one side of the field would grant him the freedom to come up with plenty of blitzes. That's particularly important in allowing Mario Williams to adjust from being a defensive end to a weakside linebacker in a 5-2 alignment. People wonder how Williams will handle dropping into coverage. If Asomugha had Williams' back, no one would have to worry about Williams in coverage.

Williams can rush the quarterback, and having better coverage would force opposing quarterbacks to make decisions faster.

Having Asomugha to match up against Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne is important. Although the Texans finally showed they could beat the Colts last year, the AFC South is still the Colts' division. It still might be if the Texans sign Asomugha, but his addition would help narrow the gap.

This is an important season for the Texans to advance and challenge the Colts. The Titans are in transition -- Mike Munchak has replaced Jeff Fisher as coach, and Jake Locker is being developed as their franchise quarterback. The Jaguars' roster remains in transition, and Jack Del Rio must decide whether he wants to keep David Garrard as the starter or turn everything over to rookie Blaine Gabbert.

Signing Asomugha is a no-brainer.