NAPA -- Nnamdi Asomugha said being a member of the Philadelphia Eagles is "a great situation," but he confessed that the sudden end to his eight-year Raiders career still stings.
One day, Asomugha is the prized target in the NFL's free agent market, with a shot at returning to the Raiders. The next, he's signing a five-year contract that guarantees him $25 million and ends his Oakland career.
"The toughest part, not being able to say goodbye to anyone," Asomugha said by phone Monday in an interview with Bay Area News Group.
After the lockout lifted, Asomugha said he spoke with Raiders coach Hue Jackson, cornerbacks coach Rod Woodson and squad development coach Willie Brown about the prospect of returning to the Raiders.
By last Friday, Asomugha said he hadn't received an offer from the Raiders, so he was advised by his agents to move forward.
"There was contact," Asomugha said, "but nothing was able to be worked out."
For the first time, Asomugha contemplated life with another team.
"Pretty tough would be an understatement," Asomugha said. "It was pretty tough because I never thought about that. I never seriously thought about that possibility, leaving the team, leaving the organization, leaving the state."
Asomugha calls starting anew with the Eagles "like the first day of school," learning names, faces and defensive terminology. At the same time, he said, he is excited about playing for a team many consider a
The Raiders never won more than eight games in a season during Asomugha's tenure. The Raiders went 37-91 during that time, though Asomugha was named to three Pro Bowls and carved out a reputation as one of the league's best all-around cornerbacks.
Asomugha was linked to the Raiders, 49ers, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans once free agency started last Tuesday. He declined to discuss which of the other suitors showed the most interest.
When forced to alter his thought process, Asomugha said he settled upon the Eagles. The Eagles went 10-6 last season before falling 21-16 to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs.
"I felt like it was the best fit," Asomugha said, "and it was a team that really did have that opportunity to win. "... It was a big thing for me to get out and win games in the NFL."
Jackson has said repeatedly that the Raiders are talented enough to challenge for the Super Bowl this season. That wouldn't surprise Asomugha.
"The team has a really good head coach in Hue Jackson, a guy that I believed in since he was a part of the team," Asomugha said. "I have a lot of respect for him. It's a talented team. It's always a sky's-the-limit team just because of the talent that we would always have. So, I wouldn't expect that to change at all."
Asomugha spent an inordinate amount of time thanking the Raiders, managing general partner Al Davis, the fans and the community.
He intends to keep giving back to the Bay Area through the Asomugha Foundation (Buildingtoday.org) as well as other endeavors, even though he will play his home games more than 2,500 miles away for the foreseeable future.
"The Bay Area was so good to me," Asomugha said. "Not just Oakland, but also Berkeley and San Francisco and all the surrounding areas. I'll continue to give back. That will never stop and that won't change."
Asomugha struggled early on in his Raiders career, in part because of a switch from playing mostly safety at Cal to cornerback. He said he appreciated the support from fans through his maturation into an elite player.
"The community embraced me every place that I would go throughout the Bay Area, not just Oakland," Asomugha said. "In San Francisco, wherever I was going, everybody was supportive. So, I wouldn't know how to say thanks to them because it's beyond a thank you."
Davis said in January that it might be prudent to use the money it would take to re-sign Asomugha on more than one player.
"He's a great player," Davis said of Asomugha. "He does a good job in the community. So, you always like to have that, but can that $17 million bring you two or three quality players to help you win?"
Asomugha earned $28.3 million during his final two seasons with the Raiders. His option year for $17 million in 2011 voided because of his failure to reach a handful of clauses in his contract.
Asomugha said he understands Davis' thinking and doesn't fault him for making a tough call on how to spend his money.
"If you feel like you can get more for that amount, then you're welcome to," Asomugha said. "I understand that part of the business 100 percent."