Asomugha inks 'richest deal ever for DB'

Turns out Al Davis didn't need to use the franchise tag to keep Nnamdi Asomugha in Oakland after all. The Pro Bowl cornerback, apparently comfortable with the direction the Raiders are now headed, agreed to a multi-year contract on Thursday, the second key potential free agent to re-sign with the team in as many days.

Make it 2-for-2 for Davis and the Raiders. A day after locking up Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler to a four-year, $12 million deal, Davis pulled off another coup by convincing Asomugha to remain with the only NFL team he's ever played for.

That the Raiders were able to keep both says a great deal. First, Davis continues to push forward with his win-now-at-all-costs mentality. A year after dropping more than $200 million in free agency with numerous questionable signings, Davis again opened his wallet and has retained three key players -- Asomugha, Lechler and cornerback Chris Johnson.

Those are three wiser investments than any Oakland made last year in free agency and should bode well for a team that has had far too much inconsistency in just about every facet lately.

Keeping Asomugha is huge, make no mistake about it. Not only do the Raiders keep the services of the NFL's premier cornerback, it signifies a major change in attitude for Asomugha, who for the past two seasons has expressed concern, privately and somewhat publicly, about the direction the franchise was headed.

Part of that stemmed from his having never played for a winning team since entering the NFL as a first-round draft choice in 2003. Part of it also resulted from the constant changing of head coaches while other issues also played a role.

Yet more than a week before he was set to become a free agent for the first time in his career -- and likely would have been one of the top two or three players available -- Asomugha apparently is comfortable enough with the way things are to ink his name to the long-term contract.

Although no terms were officially released, the deal is said to be for three years and $45.3 million, which would make Asomugha the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. The contract reportedly also calls for $28.5 million in guarantees.

Now that the Raiders have dealt with their two most pressing issues as far as their own potential free agents, the team can now turn its attention to other areas of concern, specifically the offensive and defensive lines.

No matter what happens in the coming weeks, however, Oakland has guaranteed a great start to the offseason by keeping Lechler and Asomugha.


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