NEW YORK (WFAN) – In a stunning turn of events, the Jets were beaten out in the race for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on Friday, not by the Dallas Cowboys, but by a mystery team.
That team ended up being the Philadelphia Eagles, who shocked fans everywhere by reeling in the premiere player on the free agent market with a five-year, $60 million contract, according to various reports.
It appears the Jets, assumed all along to be the frontrunner for the 30-year-old All-Pro’s services, gave Asomugha until 6 p.m. to make up his mind on their offer, believed to be nearing $10 million per season. Once that time came and went both the Jets and Cowboys, the other team reported to be the main suitor, dropped out.
And in swooped the Eagles with a mega deal that featured $25 million guaranteed.
It is believed the Jets’ Plan B in the secondary would be to turn back to Antonio Cromartie, who has drawn some interest but appeared to be biding his time to let Asomugha set the market. Another option could be a trade as the Eagles’ Asante Samuel seems like the odd man out now that Philadelphia has Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was acquired Thursday from the Arizona Cardinals.
The Jets reportedly re-structured several contracts to make room for Asomugha, but now may use that extra money to pursue other free agents, including bringing back wide receiver Braylon Edwards.
Asomugha spent his first eight seasons with the Raiders. He had a career-high eight interceptions in 2006, went to the Pro Bowl after the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons and was named a first-team all-pro in 2008 and 2010.
Even though he has just three interceptions in the last three years, Asomugha is considered one of the top cover cornerbacks in the NFL.
New York’s major move so far was agreeing to terms with wide receiver Santonio Holmes on a five-year deal, but the team still had not officially announced the deal.
Mark Brunell was cut early Friday, but the 40-year-old quarterback could possibly return to the team to back up Mark Sanchez at a reduced salary. The team announced Brunell’s release, but two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the quarterback could be re-signed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the plan.
Brunell was due $1.25 million in base salary this year. He came to the Jets last season and served as a mentor to Sanchez. Brunell, a three-time Pro Bowl selection in 18 NFL seasons, played in two games for New York and threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jets also cut backup quarterback Kevin O’Connell, and waived quarterback Erik Ainge, who was on the reserve-did not report list last season while rehabilitating from drug abuse issues. Ainge, who marked a year of sobriety earlier this month, recently told the AP that he was leaving football because of injuries to his right foot and throwing shoulder.
O’Connell spent last season on injured reserve after injuring his throwing shoulder. Drew Willy and seventh-round pick Greg McElroy, who agreed to a deal Friday, are the other quarterbacks on the roster.
The team also announced it had signed running back Bilal Powell, the team’s fourth-round pick, and wide receiver Scotty McKnight, a seventh-round pick. McKnight, one of Sanchez’s closest friends, tweeted a picture of part of his four-year contract earlier in the day.
The team waived cornerback Will Billingsley and guard Marlon Davis, both signed to reserve-future contracts in January, and signed a pair of undrafted free agents: offensive lineman Curtis Duron and cornerback Jeremy McGee.
The agent for former Buccaneers punter Chris Bryan announced on Twitter that his client had agreed to terms with the Jets. The big Australian — he’s 6-foot-5, 220 pounds — is a former Australian Football League player and will compete with T.J. Conley to be New York’s punter.
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