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Raiders keep CB Asomugha with lucrative contract

OAKLAND, Calif. -- All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha re-signed with the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, avoiding the franchise tag by agreeing to a three-year contract that's believed to be the richest ever given to a defensive back.

NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports that Asomugha's deal is worth a minimum of $45 million and could reach $50 million, according to a league source. The first two years, worth $28.5 million, are fully guaranteed.

Asomugha, who's heading into his seventh NFL season, is one of the league's elite cover defenders. He was selected for the Pro Bowl and chosen to the AP All-Pro team last season despite having only one interception because Oakland's opponents rarely even dared to throw to his side of the field.

The Raiders made two dramatic moves in the past two days to answer their biggest questions in free agency, locking up arguably their two best players with lucrative deals. On Wednesday, Oakland re-signed All-Pro Shane Lechler to a four-year contract that was the biggest ever given to a punter.

Raiders owner Al Davis had been unsure whether to use his franchise-player tag on Lechler or Asomugha, who received it last season. Instead, Davis paid top dollar to keep both players.

Asomugha, a former first-round draft pick from the University of California, has 10 career interceptions. He picked off eight passes and was a late Pro Bowl selection in 2006, when he emerged as an elite cornerback.

Asomugha made critical statements about the Raiders' direction late in their sixth consecutive losing season, but he acknowledged he probably would remain with the team because of the franchise tag. His new contract and the Raiders' new coaching staff likely made the decision to stay in Oakland much easier.

After the Raiders' big free-agent signings in the last offseason didn't work out particularly well, Davis is spending freely on his own proven players before the free-agency period even opens. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, given a $70 million deal to be Asomugha's bookend, lasted just eight terrible games before being cut, while $55 million wide receiver Javon Walker made just 15 catches before going on injured reserve.

Asomugha will return to a revamped Raiders staff under new defensive coordinator John Marshall and new defensive backs coach Lionel Washington. Oakland retained Tom Cable as its head coach earlier in the month after he led the Raiders to a 4-8 record while taking over for Lane Kiffin.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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