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Pursuing Asomugha makes sense for Bucs

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
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Posted May 21, 2011 @ 7:28 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The move would fly in the face of the team's philosophy of building through the draft and only nibbling in free agency, but team observers seem to be in agreement that signing free-agent CB Nnamdi Asomugha would make sense for the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay will be well below the salary cap — if there is a cap in 2011 — and will be able to make a strong bid for Asomugha, the top player available in free agency. He will command a big investment and will have at least a few teams willing to make the necessary financial commitment. Big-spending franchises from the NFC East, including the Cowboys and Redskins, are said to be interested. Asomugha has not publicly ruled out returning to the Raiders, but indications are he's ready to move on.

Asomugha, through his publicity agency, has declined interview requests and has focused on his foundation's work during the lockout. There's little doubt, however, that he wants to play for a team that is poised to contend for the next few years. He doesn't have to look any further than the Bucs to find a team prepared to be consistently competitive for the next several seasons.

Tampa Bay, while it's not considered a title contender just yet, won 10 games in '10 and it is well equipped with young talent that should continue to improve.

Some might argue there are greater needs for the Bucs than cornerback at spots like linebacker, running back and guard — re-signing ORG Davin Joseph is a priority. Adding insurance at defensive end would be sensible in case rookie Da'Quan Bowers' knee becomes an issue. The Bucs' situation at corner is unsettled, too, though. CB Aqib Talib is facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and it's possible he'll be released or at least suspended before the season. CB Ronde Barber is still a very solid player, but he's only under contract through '11. Even if Talib returns, with Asomugha in the fold, sources familiar with Barber say he would accept a nickel-back role with Asomugha and Talib on the outside.

Diving into free agency to sign Asomugha would be a departure from the Bucs' standard mode of operation, but the move certainly would be justifiable and bolster a defense that will face the high-powered passing attacks of the Saints and Falcons two times apiece.

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