Eagles stun rivals, land CB Asomugha with five-year, $60M deal

The Philadelphia Eagles have become quite an attractive destination of late. Nnamdi Asomugha joined the party Friday, stunning the NFL.

After reports linked Asomugha to numerous other teams, including the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets, the Eagles surprisingly announced they had agreed to a five-year contract with the Pro Bowl cornerback. The deal is worth $60 million, with $25 million guaranteed, according to The Associated Press.

What makes the move even more surprising is the Eagles weren't a part of the early courting of Asomugha. In fact, general manager Howie Roseman said the team entered negotiations "very late."

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But the Eagles landed their man and now have three Pro Bowl cornerbacks on their roster: Asomugha; Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, whom they acquired Thursday from the Arizona Cardinals in the Kevin Kolb trade; and Asante Samuel, who has 42 interceptions in eight years.

There's speculation that the Eagles might not keep Samuel, who was excused from training camp at Lehigh University the first two days. If Samuel is trade bait, Roseman certainly isn't letting on, though.

"We do consider the third corner a starter," he said. "This is a passing league. We think it's important to be able to defend the pass and pressure the quarterback."

Added Roseman: "It's always been a priority position for us. Corners, pass rushers, and we felt like last year, we were in a situation where maybe we got a little short-handed, and we thought it was a place that we wanted to go heavy and have a lot of talent at.

"You can never have enough cover corners. That helps your pass rush, and when you have an opportunity to add the players we added, we just thought we had to add those guys."

The Eagles allowed a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes during the 2010 regular season and three more in a 21-16 home loss to the Green Bay Packers in their playoff opener.

"Howie and Joe (Banner, the Eagles' president) worked their tail off and put together this phenomenal plan," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "They came out of the gates like wild men and attacked the issue. Neither one of them has had much sleep. But they've rewarded our football team and the city of Philadelphia with some great players."

Lost in the Asomugha shuffle was the fact that the Eagles also formally announced a one-year deal for quarterback Vince Young, whom the Tennessee Titans released Thursday, to back up starter Michael Vick. The team also officially signed Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin to a five-year contract, and tight end Donald Lee and wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins to one-year deals.

As the NFL headed toward its free-agency signing period, which started Friday at 6 p.m. ET, it appeared as if the Jets were the front-runners for Asomugha's services, with the Cowboys also in the mix. But minutes before the Eagles announced they had a deal with Asmougha, NFL Network's Albert Breer, citing a league source, reported the Jets had pulled out of the bidding.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was doing an interview with the team's flagship radio station when the Eagles announced the Asomugha deal.

"We had an opportunity, we acted on it -- and, believe me, we firmly acted on it, 'til my eyes watered," Jones told KRLD-FM.

The Cowboys already have shed more than $18 million in salaries by cutting high-priced veteran players, and they almost certainly would have needed to dump starting cornerback Terence Newman to fit Asomugha.

"No one thought we could really be active up in the super area of free agency," Jones said. "I think this clearly shows that we can be. ... I did not get Rob (Ryan, the defensive coordinator) to break from the drill and come over unless it was serious business for the Dallas Cowboys."

Jones said everyone should recognize the motivation behind the team's pursuit of Asomugha.

"The fact that we're sitting here bidding on the No. 1 guy in free agency ... that means we're going for it," Jones said.

But Asmougha decided to join the Cowboys' NFC East rivals, who went 10-6 last season, won the division and now figure to be considered among the Super Bowl favorites.

Asomugha spent his first eight seasons in Oakland and played under Ryan there from 2004 to 2008. He had a career-high eight interceptions for the Raiders in 2006, went to the Pro Bowl after the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, and was named a first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2010.

Asomugha's departure from Oakland was expected since March, when the Raiders didn't sign him before the lockout and gave cornerback Stanford Routt a three-year, $31.5 million contract with $20 million guaranteed over the first two years of the deal.

"I'm very happy for him, and we wish him well, but, as I've always said, it's next man up for us," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Asomugha. "We have some very good players here and, again, I'm happy for him, but I've got to really concentrate on this football team and try to get this team to be the best that it can be."

Asomugha signed a three-year, $45.3 million contract with the Raiders in February 2009, making him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history. He was paid $28.5 million in the first two years of the contract before the final year voided because he didn't reach certain benchmarks.

With Asomugha gone, former starter Chris Johnson likely will move back in the Raiders' lineup, and the team also will take a close look at four cornerbacks drafted the past two seasons: 2010 picks Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware, and 2011 selection DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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