Some years ago Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis drafted a tall, unheralded free safety out of the University of California with the hopes he could provide them with the kind of dominating defensive back they wanted alongside Charles Woodson. Comically referred as "hands of stone", Davis would be abused for his decision and after the first few years it appeared they were right in doing so.
They would have never predicted that the decision would leave the Raiders facing this issue today. Currently it appears that Nnamdi may be heading for greener pastures but one thing is concrete - Davis will pull all the stops to make him stay.
Quite simply, there are a few things Al Davis loves in a team and that is a solid, aggressive bump and run secondary with.... a pair of shutdown corners. Ever since the days of Mike Hayes and Lester Haynes Davis has become infatuated with the notion of two Pro-Bowl cornerback flanking his defence.
Nnamdi Asomugha & Fabian Washington (2006): Asomugha has a breakout season (eight interceptions) while Washington enjoys moderate success.
Asomugha & DeAngelo Hall (2008): After Washington is released DeAngelo Hall arrives and lasts eight games worth $8 million. He fails to adjust to the unique Raider style of defensive play while Asomugha attends the Pro Bowl.
Asomugha & Chris Johnson (2009): Johnson is rewarding a starting position after an impressive 2008 campaign but regresses and struggles to hold off Stanford Routt for the starting spot. Nnamdi once again is invited to the Pro Bowl.
Asomugha & Stanford Routt (2010): Despite being targeted 99 times and suffering from lapses in concentration Routt ends the year with an eye-opening 39% completion rate only bettered by Darelle Revis. He is rewarded with a 3 year, $30 million deal. Asomugha once again is an All-Pro.
What does this tell us? Davis doesn't plan on having Routt as the primary cornerback, but he is prepared if the situation presents itself. Don't assume that just because Routt is making very, very good money even for a No. 1 CB that this negates the opportunity for Nnamdi to return. Money is most definitely not the issue. What is?
Success. The former Golden Bear has been to the Pro Bowl, he has been surrounded by players who have tasted victory that he has never come close to. Being named the greatest shutdown corner in the league is one thing, but does it really count for anything when you watch the playoffs on your Plasma TV? Nnamdi wants a Super Bowl, he wants to be on Monday Night Football and he's sick of having the Andrew Walter's,Jamarcus Russell's and Jason Campbell's of the world trying to take their teams the distance when he knows the humbling truth. They probably can't.
Why he might stay: Unfortunately for Raiders fans #21 is not going to stick around "for the team", no player in his position is that loyal that they would remain simply because the team happened to draft and coach them. Nnamdi will only return if he genuinely thinks the Oakland Raiders can win a Super Bowl in his career - probably seven years at most. And as a Raider fan even I can't expect them to challenge for another couple of years.
Why he will go: The world is his oyster. A host of genuine Super Bowl-contending teams would line up for Asomugha's services. Two teams I could certainly see Nnamdi landing at would be Philadelphia or Green Bay. The Eagles have talked for a long time about grabbing him as a replacement for Asante Samuel and he would immediately become the very young defence's MVP. Furthermore, it would do wonders for the team's chances of going the distance. At GB Nnamdi would be reunited with Charles Woodson and fill Al Harris's shoes on a very professional, very talented team with a quality coach.
Ironically, Al Davis was willing to do just about anything to keep Nnamdi... except one thing. Asomugha constantly was an advocate for Tom Cable throughout his time as coach and repeatedly linked the team's success with his involvement. He has commented on Hue Jackson and appears to have no bad feelings regarding him but he clealy does not feel the same way. If the Raiders were going to have any chance of bringing the safety-turned-cornerback here again it was in resigning the former Offensive Line coach. By hiring Hue Jackson you risk going through another rebuilding period - something that Nnamdi has seen too much of already. The draft will tell us more and if Oakland are sincerely looking to pick players like QB Colin Kaepernick then that shows they are planning for the longer term. Davis underestimated the impact of Cable's departure and there is no chance in a million years that compensatory gestures (such as bringing on board Rod Woodson) will have any affect on his decision.
Sure, maybe Nnamdi stays. But he knows by now what he is working with. Does he really think that group can hoist the Lombardi Trophy? Can he see Jason Campbell taking them to the AFC Championship game?
I'm not buying it no matter how hard Davis sells it.
Tell us what you think.