How Do Elite Cornerbacks Perform After Turning 30?

By Jason McIntyre

(Asomugha has never played in a playoff game, so he’s got less wear and tear than a guy like Deion Sanders, who had played in nine playoff games before he turned 30.)

* Deion Sanders (Dallas, SF) – best years were his late 20s. He was a 1st team All-Pro six times, with the last two years being when he was 30 and 31 (1997, 1998, respectively). Asomugha is a very, very good cornerback, but nobody is putting him in Deion’s class.

* Mike Haynes (New England, LA Raiders) – Hall of Famer had arguably his best two years when he was 31 and 32 (1984 and 1985, when he was 1st team All-Pro).

* Lester Hayes (LA Raiders) – Teamed with Haynes to form the best cornerback tandem of all time. Hall of Famer and 2-time Super Bowl champ was – like most guys on this list – awesome in their late 20s, less awesome after that. Hayes was the defensive player of the year at age 25 (in 1980). He retired at 31 in 1986.

* Champ Bailey (Washington, Denver) – Like Deion, his best years were in his late 20s. He was 1st team All-Pro from 2004-2006 (age 26, 27, 28), but struggled with injures the year he turned 30. Bounced back with a strong year in 2009 at the age of 31.

* Rod Woodson (Pittsburgh, others) – First defensive back to be 1st team All-Pro in three different decades (1989, four times in the 1990s, and 2002)? Elite corner in his late 20s, then an ACL injury sidelined him in 1995 (when he was 30). Was no longer elite after that, but moved to safety late in his career and at age 37 was tabbed 1st team All-Pro.

* Charles Woodson (Oakland, Green Bay) – Had the best year of his career at age 33, when he was the Defensive Player of the Year (edging out Darrelle Revis). Woodson was the first cornerback to win the award since Deion did in 1994. Woodson went through a bit of a post-Super Bowl lull with the Raiders in his 20s (injuries contributed to that), but he’s been rejuvenated with the Packers (sure helps to have a strong seven in front of him).

Obviously, Asomugha would have been a massive signing for anyone who landed him. Who knows if we’ve even seen the best of him – it isn’t like he ever played with any talent in Oakland.

The Eagles definitely become the favorites in the NFC East with him, but Las Vegas still has the Packers as the team to beat in the conference.

The one thing that’s pretty obvious – giving $60 million to Asomugha for five years was definitely excessive. If he helps Philly win a Super Bowl nobody will care about the contract, but after the first two years, the chances of Asomugha competing at a high level seem unlikely.