Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stunning move to add Nnamdi Asomugha caps whirlwind 2 days for Eagles


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PHILADELPHIA — With one big move after another over two wild days, the Philadelphia Eagles became strong favorites to reach the Super Bowl.
Trading Kevin Kolb was expected. Signing Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin was no surprise. Even getting two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Vince Young to back up Michael Vick hardly turned heads
But the stunner came when the defending NFC East champions swooped in from nowhere and landed Nnamdi Asomugha, the biggest prize on the NFL’s free-agent market.
The two-time All-Pro cornerback was seemingly headed elsewhere — the New York Jets courted him aggressively — before the Eagles quietly moved in and signed him to a $60 million, five-year deal on Friday.
No one anticipated that being the major announcement when general manager Howie Roseman and coach Andy Reid took the podium shortly after teams were allowed to officially announce free-agent signings at 6 p.m.
“This has been fast and furious, but good things have come out of it,” Reid said. “I mentioned to you before that I thought Howie had a great plan for free agency and trades, so this is what we have here so far and it’s a pretty good list.”
Babin, who had 12½ sacks last year in Tennessee, bolsters the pass rush. Young, who was 30-17 as a starter in five seasons with the Titans, provides insurance if Vick goes down. Asomugha and two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, acquired from Arizona in the Kolb trade, join Asante Samuel to form perhaps the best cover secondary in the NFL.
Last season, the Eagles allowed a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes in the regular season, and three more in a 21-16 loss to Green Bay at home in the first round of the playoffs.
It won’t be so easy throwing against this star-studded trio.
“It’s always been a priority position for us,” Roseman said. “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.”
Asomugha spent his first eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He had a career-high eight interceptions in 2006, and went to the Pro Bowl after each of the past three seasons.
Even though he had just three interceptions in the past three years — mainly because teams don’t throw to his side — Asomugha is widely regarded the best cover cornerback in the NFL, and was courted by several high-profile teams, including the Jets and Dallas Cowboys.
“He’s one of the best — if not the best — cornerback in the National Football League,” Reid said. “He’ll be a great addition to our cornerback corps.”
There’s speculation the Eagles may 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, however.
“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. When you have cover players and pass rushers, and we added a couple of those today and yesterday, I think that helps you do that.”
The Eagles also signed tight end Donald Lee and wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins to one-year deals on Friday.
Few noticed those moves, of course.
Adding Young got lost in the hoopla surrounding Asomugha’s acquisition, too. But Young could prove to be equally important if Vick gets hurt. Considering the way Vick recklessly throws his body around, Young might see plenty of action.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Young went 30-2 as a starter at Texas and led the Longhorns to a national championship in his final game there only to have an up-and-down tenure with the Titans.
Young has completed 58 percent of his passes with 42 touchdowns and as many interceptions. He’s rushed for 1,380 yards, with a 5.2-yard average, and 12 more touchdowns.
Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg helped develop Vick into an MVP candidate and Pro Bowl starter last year. They’re hoping to do the same with Young.
“It’s going to be a positive effect.” Vick said. “I think Vince will mature as a player, and I think he’ll get better. (Being in Philadelphia) will help him long term. So get him in here and make him a better player, and if we ever need him, he’s there for us. If you have a roster full of good quarterbacks, then you have a great chance of winning.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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