While the Patriots have been making the splash moves by acquiring Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, the Jets have quietly been plotting their next moves. They have expressed interest in signing All Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to the roster, to pair across from Darrelle Revis and to give the Jets not only the best #1, #2 cornerback punch in the league, but the #1 and #2 cornerbacks in the league- period. However, I will try and quell some of your fears.
1) Nnamdi Asomugha has expressed that he will take a price cut to play with his next team. Of course, when his previous contract was worth the average of the top 5 quarterbacks in the league (or greater), any new contract would be a pay cut. That said, I find it hard to believe that Asomugha would take a pay decrease too far below Darrelle Revis, who set the bar last season at a $7,000,000 base, but breaks $11,000,000 with his guaranteed money. Coincidentally, the Jets have around $7,000,000 in cap space. However, that leaves little wiggle room for guaranteed money and even less wiggle room to sign additional players. Keep in mind that the $7m in cap space does not include Santonio Holmes' new contract, or a rearrangement in David Harris' franchise value contract.
(Note: The Jets have a base $7m left in their cap. They have an additional $3m available due to the veteran's exemption. They also have the ability to restructure a few contracts, like Mark Sanchez' and David Harris', in order to free up additional cap space. That said, the point still stands that the $12m offer for Asomugha would eat up the majority of their remaining cap space.)
2) If Nnamdi signs with the Jets, they'll have to find a way to pay:
a) Their newly drafted rookies
b) Their veteran free agents
c) Any other free agent
They'll have almost no cap space left over to sign Muhammad Wilkerson or any of the other draft picks. They can wave good-bye to Braylon Edwards, Shaun Ellis, Brodney Pool, Antonio Cromartie, Brad Smith, and all of their other veterans they won't be able to afford. The Jets can watch teams take advantage of these open players because those teams have more salary cap freedom. If the Jets sign Asomugha, they might take a slight step forward at cornerback, but they'll take steps backwards all over the field.
3) The Jets' defense will hurt the most. Counter-intuitive, right? The signing of Asomugha gives the Jets the Revis/Asomugha couple that can shut down opposite sidelines. They have Bart Scott and, maybe, David Harris at linebacker and they have Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha on the defensive line. However, they have no outside linebackers.
You know how frustrating it is to watch the Patriots outside linebackers? The Jets have it worse off. They have the aging and slowing down pair of Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas who, according to Jets fans, they don't even want.
Even though the Jets were able to generate pressure with just their three down lineman last season, they wouldn't be able to bring back Shaun Ellis, who was their best pass rusher in the playoff game. The addition of Asomugha? Eliminates their outside linebackers and their LDE.
You know how a team pass rushes when they don't have high quality outside linebackers, and one of their defensive ends? You have the 2009 New England Patriots.
But that's not all- the Jets currently stand with 5'8 Jim Leonhard as their only safety on the roster. Who defends the centerfield for the Jets? Who will defend 6'6 Rob Gronkowski up the seam? Who's going to go toe-to-toe with Aaron Hernandez? The addition of Asomugha prevents the Jets from bolstering their safety position and further weakens their already-weak point.
Last season, the Patriots were able to use their tight ends to great success against the Jets. If the Jets signed Asomugha, those same tight ends would have even more of a field day.
So when looking at the Jets signing Asomugha, thing of these following facts:
1) They might not even be able to afford him.
2) If they do afford him, they can't pay anyone else.
3) By not paying anyone else, they're actually making their defense more vulnerable than last season.
So does the combination of Asomugha and Revis sound intimidating? Certainly. That doesn't mean that it's end-game for the pass-happy Patriots. It just means that Chad Ochocinco and Deion Branch will be covered.
I'll take those odds.