Eisenberg: Ravens Should Give Asomugha A Whirl

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Given what Asomugha could do for them, they owe it to themselves to experiment.

There are free-agent acquisitions that help you and free-agent acquisitions that transform you, and Asomugha is potentially one of the latter for the Ravens.

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A lot of teams are contemplating making a run at what is expected to be the biggest name on the open market (once the lockout ends and that market opens), and of that group, the Ravens are near the top of the list of teams that could benefit the most.

As close as they came to making the Super Bowl in 2010 – giving up a two- touchdown halftime lead and losing in the final seconds to the team that won the AFC title – they would have every reason to envision themselves as an extremely serious contender.

If rookie Jimmy Smith is ready at one corner, as the Ravens hope, and Asomugha is opposite him, they would immediately have one of the NFL's toughest set of pass defenders, and their aging defense would have new life. And it was still a top-10 defense, anyway.

With those two playing corner in front of Ed Reed, opponents would have to ask, "OK, where are we going to throw the darn ball?"

Between Ngata, Reed, Asomugha, Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, almost half of the starting defense would be Pro Bowl-caliber guys.

Other teams that reportedly could also be in the market for Asomugha include the Eagles, Cowboys, Texans, Seahawks, Jets and Lions. The money each offers obviously is going to have a big say in where he goes, but only the Eagles and Jets have been consistent winners lately.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback column that the likeliest landing spots for Asomugha were 1) Philly, 2) Dallas, and 3) Baltimore. The fact that the Ravens are that high on King's list is a good sign that they actually might be serious players.

"Everything says no -- the Ravens need to sign Haloti Ngata long-term, and how many megabuck defensive players can you have in a cap era? But Ozzie Newsome knows the only thing his defense lacks is a shutdown corner," King wrote.

Look, I'm not saying the Ravens absolutely, positively have to get Asomugha or their 2011 season is sunk. That's way too extreme. Between Smith, Domonique Foxworth, Lardarius WebbChris Carr and Josh Wilson (the latter two being potential free agents), they have an interesting mix of cornerback options as it is. They would still be a winning team; a team that could go far, possibly really far.

But adding Asomugha would give the Ravens a real reason to swagger into games against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nice thought, huh?

They just might not be able to free up enough money to get it done, and everyone needs to understand that. Such is life in the salary-capped NFL. You can't always get what you want.

A more likely scenario in the end is they make a series of smaller moves filling various holes in their fabric.

But if their bean counters can work that abacus and green-light a run at Asomugha, the Ravens should give it all they've got.

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

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