BETHLEHEM, PA -- As soon as Nnamdi Asomugha realized he was going to be a free agent, Philadelphia was the place he wanted to land, the star cornerback told reporters today.
"To a man and woman, everybody that was in my team, they know that the number one team was the Eagles, from March," Asomugha said. "There was a handful of teams at that point, and then when the Eagles became a possibility, we knew that it was a match."
Asomugha called it a "first-class" organization from top to bottom and praised the team's history of winning. A Raider his entire career, Asomugha has never made the playoffs and wants that to change.
"There's one main reason why you're playing -- you want to win," Asomugha said.
The team got Asomugha for 5 years and $60 million -- less than many expected he would command. He actually made more (about $14 million per year) in his last contract.
"There was money out there. There was a market out there with the numbers that you guys assumed – that the media assumed – I would want," Asomugha said. But he called those stories "apocryphal." (And let's pause right here and add that in addition to being a superstar athlete and humanitarian, he can fill up a notebook). Even he seemed surprised, though, that the Eagles bid for him, especially since they did not jump in right away. Asomugha had heard from several other teams when the Eagles jumped in.
"Even for me, you guys were surprised ..." he said. "Everything came really quickly. When the Eagles expressed an interest and were so aggressive and said we have a chance, if you want this let’s to do it, it didn’t have to go much further from there."
It didn't hurt that Michael Vick gave him a recruiting pitch at the Pro Bowl and fellow Cal alum DeSean Jackson was texting and calling him all offseason.
When he saw Vick today, the quarterback said, "we made it happen."
Asomugha will wear number 24 in Philly, leaving 21 to nickel back Joselio Hanson. Asomugha said he wasn't the kind of person to arrive and try to take over.
Notes from practice:
Today was the first padded practice of the summer, and there were some feisty moments.
-- Jim Washburn and Howard Mudd are both tough task masters. When the offensive and defensive lines do one-on-one drills against one another the two coaches are must-see TV. Even if we wanted to quote from the practice field, there's little Washburn says that we could print. Trent Cole said the linemen take it as motivation.
-- It may take some time for Eagles offensive linemen to get used to Mudd, who get can downright nasty when angry. Mudd flipped out on Peters because the tackle said he couldn't hear the signal for the snap and tossed him out of the one-on-one drill.
-- Cole was fired up all morning. He consistently smoked Jason Peters in one-on-ones and got under the offense's skin by swiping the ball out of Vick's hands on one play. The QB is supposed to be off limits, of course. Cole said he later apologized. Vick got him back -- the offense ran a bootleg in Cole's direction, taking advantage of his aggressive rush to the inside.
-- The N.Y. Jets signing Plaxico Burress to a one-year, approximately $3 million contract meant that the Eagles weren't going to get the former Giants wide receiver, despite widespread speculation that the Eagles were the lead candidates to land him. They were not. They was mild interest, a high-ranking Eagles official said, but only if the team could get him for very little.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick lobbied hard for Burress, a childhood friend, but understood that some things were not meant to be. "You can't always get what you want," he said.
-- Top pick Danny Watkins' holdout has now stretched into the fourth day of training camp. The Eagles and representation for the guard have drawn their lines in the sand. The issue is the guaranteed number of years.
-- A few people have asked on Twitter if they should worry that neither DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin is here. It's a legit concern. Right now Vick is throwing to Jason Avant, Chad Hall and Riley Cooper.
-- On the first day of hitting, you could see some of the toll of an offseason without organization workouts. Juqua Parker was carted off the field, throwing up. Antonio Dixon and Darryl Tapp both left with cramps. The team said Parker was dehydrated. Here's the full injury list, though the team said none were serious: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Achilles), Brent Celek (back), Dion Lewis (hamstring) and Victor Abiamiri (calf).
-- The Eagles signed rookie free agent LB Terence Thomas, from Villanova.