x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Philadelphia Eagles soar high with Nnamdi Asomugha

With one big move after another over the past two days, the Philadelphia Eagles became strong contenders to reach the Super Bowl.

With one big move after another over the past two days, the Philadelphia Eagles became strong contenders to reach the Super Bowl.

Trading Kevin Kolb, the quarterback, was expected. Signing the Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin was no surprise. Even getting the 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 and landed the cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the biggest prize on the NFL's free-agent market.

The two-time All-Pro was seemingly heading elsewhere - the New York Jets courted him aggressively - before the Eagles quietly moved in and signed him to a US$60 million (Dh220m), five-year deal.

"This has been fast and furious, but good things have come out of it," coach Andy 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 twelve-and-a-half 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 the 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 play-offs.

It will not be so easy throwing against this star-studded trio.

"It's always been a priority position for us," the general manager Howie 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."

Before moving to Philadelphia, Asomugha spent 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.

"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."

The Eagles also signed the tight end, Donald Lee, and the wide receiver, Johnnie Lee Higgins, to one-year deals on Friday.