On Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will become an unrestricted free agent, due to the fact that his contract has voided in advance of the 2011 season. Couched as something about which the Raiders weren’t aware, we later were told by multiple sources that the Raiders knew about the provision.
Making the situation even more confusing was the fact that the contract voided not because Asomugha achieved certain performance triggers, but because he failed to achieve them. Thus, the Raiders arguably wanted the deal to void.
The Raiders had a good reason to not want to honor the 2011 season of the Asomugha contract. Based on his performance in 2009, he was due to receive a base salary equal to the franchise tag for quarterbacks, with the amount becoming fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the next league year. But why would the Raiders need to have the contract void when the Raiders could simply cut him?
Last night, during our weekly visit with Todd Wright of Sporting News Radio, the light bulb finally flickered. With the contract voiding and Asomugha becoming a free agent, his departure will set the Raiders up for a compensatory draft pick in 2012. If they had cut Asomugha, the loss of the player would not have been included within the convoluted formula based on net free-agency losses.
Sure, there’s a chance that the next CBA won’t incorporate compensatory draft picks. But it was a viable device at the time the Asomugha contract was negotiated, and so something for which the Raiders widely were criticized actually may have been a stroke of semi-genius, allowing them to dump Asomugha without cutting him, and in turn possibly finagling an extra draft pick in 2012.
If, you know, there even is a draft in 2012.
UPDATE: In a prior version of this article, we inexplicably confused the supplemental draft with the concept of compensatory draft picks. We meant compensatory picks, not supplemental. We apologize for the uncharacteristic but hardly unprecedented blunder.