BETHLEHEM -- The Eagles have announced a five-year deal with the top free agent on the NFL market, corner Nnamdi Asomugha, who joins Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the corner they acquired yesterday from Arizona, and Asante Samuel in what is the NFL's most prolific and best-paid corner corps. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Asomugha deal is for $60 million, $25 million guaranteed.
Whether the three-cornered defense will stand is, of course, a huge question, one the Eagles didn't answer resoundingly in a news conference that began shortly after 7 p.m. at Lehigh.
General manager Howie Roseman, asked if he envisioned lining up all three corners on opening day in St. Louis, gave an answer that began with "We're excited to get Nnamdi."
Asked again after the news conference, Roseman again refrained from painting an emphatic picture of all three corners definitely, absiolutely, positively playing here.
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Roseman said he was excited to have all three on the roster. "We have more work to do to fill out our roster," he said.
Roseman repeatedly insisted that Samuel's absence so far from training camp was what the Eagles have said -- personal and excused, not at all related to the corner moves. But unless the Birds are going to talk a Pro Bowler into taking a nickel role, one has to think a Samuel trade might be pending, for something the Eagles really need. (A big-time lionebacker? A big-time right offensive tackle? Hunter Pence?)
All day long, Twitter chronicled an apparent battle between the Cowboys and the Jets to sign Asomugha, often extolled as the NFL''s best cover corner. News that the Eagles were signing him -- apparently broken by Schefter and Fox's Jay Glazer, in a dead heat, seconds before the team texted an announcement -- stunned the league.
Roseman said the Eagles became serious bidders "fairly recently," through contacts with agent Ben Dogra about other players he represents.
"You're talking about a guy who represents 120 players," Roseman said. "You're going to be talking with him, and when you are, you're going to be curious about what's going on" with Asomugha.
Eagles coach Andy Reid announced the trade but left for a team meeting without answering any questions about who plays where.
"I mentioned to you before that I thought Howie had a great plan for free agency and trades and so on," Reid said. "This is what we have here so far, and it's a pretty good list. I think we all know about Nnamdi -- if not the best, he's one of the best cornerbacks in the National Football League. He'll be a great addition to our cornerback corps ... It reminds me a little of when we had Al (Harris), Troy (Vincent) and Bobby Taylor. So we'll just see how things go there."
Maybe the Eagles aren't quite sure yet whether this can work, maybe it depends on Samuel's reaction to being overshadowed, and possibly asked to play inside.
"We've spent a lot of time on making this move. There hasn't been a lot of time for other things," Roseman said. "I think all those questions are for another day."
Roseman said the Eagles are in "constant contact" with Samuel.
Oh, yeah, the Eagles finally announced the five-year Jason Babin deal. They still aren't able to acknowledge their agreement with QB Vince Young, because he wasn't technically released until today, though the Titans announced they were releasing him on Thursday.
"Very late," Roseman said, when asked when the Eagles entered the Asomugha process. "He wanted to be in Philadelphia."