Signing a $30-million contract on the eve of a work stoppage is either the cruelest joke ever played or the best carrot ever dangled in front of an NFL player. Stanford Routt’s contract has raised more eyebrows than if Lawrence Taylor were asked to rewrite the BYU honor code.
In Routt’s defense he did have one of the NFL’s biggest bull’s eyes placed squarely between the 2 and the 6 on his jersey playing opposite Nnamdi Asomugha last year. Being on the other side of Nnamdi is a little like being secret service for the President. You might not be the primary target but you’re certainly the first in the line of fire. Just ask DeAngelo Hall how difficult is it is to be Asomugha’s partner in pass coverage.
Despite the fact Routt knew he was going to be picked on more often than a fat kid in a game of dodge ball, he welcomed the challenge. Recently ESPN blogger Bill Williamson caught up with Routt and asked him about the challenge of playing opposite the best shutdown corner in the game.
I think I did a good job. I know this will be a spotlight year, but I think last year was the pressure-filled year for me. When I got my starting spot back in camp, I knew the bull’s eye would rest on my back and I’d got 1,000 balls thrown my way. I think I did pretty well.
Just how well Routt played last year is a contentious debate among football minds. Many reference Routt’s staggeringly low 39% burn rate as evidence of how much he progressed as a full-time starter. Others are quick to point out that Stanford might not have allowed many passes to be completed against him outside of the end zone but in the paint he was torched for five scores (3 by Routt’s count).
No matter the opinion of others, Routt himself didn’t think 2010 was a great year by any measure from a personal standpoint.
To be frank, I’ve always known I can play. In my mind, I was probably average or below average last year. I want to get back on the field and show what I can do. I gave up three TD’s last year, which I felt was too many. I wanted to only give up one or even none and I wanted five or more interceptions. I felt it was below average cause I didn’t reach my personal expectations.
As if his personal goals and playing opposite Aso weren’t enough of a challenge in 2010, Routt now has a $30-million price tag hanging over his head whenever the NFL resumes activities. Oh yeah, that and possibly replacing Nnamdi as the team’s #1 corner. But that’s not stressing Stanford either. He’s up for the challenge and sees much bigger things ahead for the Silver and Black as a whole.
We have as much talent as any team in the league. We just have to eliminate the big plays on defense. I look forward to doing that.