On the day the NFL's free-agent market opened, the Eagles released cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the most heralded free-agent signings in franchise history.
Asomugha, who played two seasons in Philadelphia, was scheduled to receive a base salary of $15 million this season, with $4 million guaranteed.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman met with Ben Dogra, Asomugha's agent, at the scouting combine last month. The sides could not agree on a restructured deal. Roseman said Tuesday that the Eagles had thought over this decision for the last two weeks. It had been clear for some time, however, that the move would be made once the new league year began.
Roseman and coach Chip Kelly spoke to Asomugha on Tuesday.
"He took the news with a lot of class," Roseman said in a statement. "We expected nothing less than that from him. He has been a true pro on and off the field for this organization and our community and we wish him all the best as he continues his NFL career.
Asomugha arrived in Philadelphia as the headliner of the star-studded and ill-fated class of 2011 acquisitions. A three-time Pro Bowler with the Oakland Raiders, he signed a five-year, $60 million contract in 2011. He came with the reputation as one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks, although he never justified that status in Philadelphia. He finished with four interceptions in two seasons and was too often beaten deep by opposing receivers.
One part of his reputation that he fulfilled involved his charity and citizenship. The National Conference on Citizenship named Asomugha as its role model of the year in September and he was a candidate for the NFL's Bart Starr Award, which honors outstanding character and leadership, during both his seasons in Philadelphia.
"I'm very grateful for my time in Philadelphia and I want to thank the Eagles organization for the opportunity," Asomugha said in a statement. "It was an honor to play in such a great football city with such a passionate fan base. And I wish my former teammates and coaches the best next season."
Asomugha likely saw this move coming. Kelly's public comments about Asomugha had been tepid and ambiguous, and did not dispel the notion that the team would part ways with the cornerback, who will be 32 next season. Whatever salary he receives from his next team will be paid in addition to the $4 million from the Eagles.
The Eagles also appear to be moving on from cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, another 2011 acquisition. That means the team will need to replace both starting cornerbacks.
"In the end, [Kelly] and I both felt we needed to move in a different direction at the cornerback position for 2013 and beyond," Roseman said.
They might find at least one replacement in the free-agent market during the next few days. Roseman and Kelly can only hope that signing is more successful than the team's experience with Asomugha.