In a move that took the entire football world by surprise, the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in out of nowhere to sign the premier target of the free agent market, All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha joins newly acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel in what is now a stacked Eagles secondary.
The team also announced they agreed to terms with Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin. Both Babin and Asomugha will be inked to five-year deals. Wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins and tight end Donald Lee also agreed to terms with Eagles, both on one-year deals. The team issued the following press release.
The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have agreed to terms with Pro Bowl CB Nnamdi Asomugha and Pro Bowl DE Jason Babin, each to five-year deals. The team also signed WR Johnnie Lee Higgins and TE Donald Lee, each to one-year deals.
A three-time Pro Bowler from 2008-10 and a four-time All Pro selection (2006, 2008-10), Asomugha (6-2, 210) has played in 122 career games (99 starts), and accumulated 310 tackles, 11 interceptions, 62 passes defensed and two sacks. Widely regarded as one of the top cover cornerbacks in the NFL, Asomugha earned his third straight trip to the Pro Bowl in 2010 after contributing 19 tackles and six passes defensed, anchoring a Raiders defense that ranked second in the NFL behind San Diego by allowing just 189.2 passing yards per game.
Originally a first-round draft choice of the Raiders in 2003, the 30-year old cornerback spent his first eight seasons in Oakland after starring collegiately at California. Since his arrival in Oakland, the Raiders have allowed a league-low 2177 completions. He enjoyed one of his finest seasons in 2006 after tying for third in the NFL with eight interceptions and adding 50 tackles, one sack and a 24-yard interception return touchdown. That season, he was selected by the team as the Raiders MVP. A native of Lafayette, LA, Asomugha finished his collegiate career at California with 187 tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions and three touchdown returns. He attended Narbone high school in Los Angeles, and was one of the nation's top recruits as a senior. His name means "Jesus Lives" in Nigerian. Following the 2009 season, Asomugha was honored as the Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year.
Now in his second stint in Philadelphia, Babin (6-3, 260) started in all 16 games for the Tennessee Titans in 2010, setting career highs in tackles (93), sacks (12.5) and force fumbles (2), en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance. His 12.5 sacks ranked third in the AFC (sixth in the NFL) behind Tamba Hali (14.5) and Cameron Wake (14). A former first round draft choice (27th overall) of Houston in 2004, Babin has spent time with the Texans (2004-06), Seahawks (2007-08), Chiefs (2008), Eagles (2009) and Titans (2010). He has appeared in 82 career games, amassing 289 tackles, 30 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
A two-time MAC defensive player of the year and first-team All-MAC selection at Western Michigan, Babin appeared in 47 games in his collegiate career, setting the school record for sacks (38) and tackles for a loss (75). The 31-year-old attended Paw Paw High School (MI), earning first-team All-Kalamazoo Valley honors as a senior.
Higgins (5-11, 185) has recorded 57 receptions for 779 yards and four touchdowns in his four-year career, all with the Oakland Raiders. He also has racked up 973 yards and three touchdowns on 115 punt returns (8.5-yard average). His finest season came in 2008 when he registered career highs in receptions (22), yards (366), and touchdowns (4). He was voted to Sports Illustrated's All-Pro team after leading the NFL with 570 punt return yards and three touchdowns that year (including an NFL-long 93-yarder). His 13.0 yards per return ranked fourth. Originally a third round draft pick of the Raiders in 2007, the 27-year-old Higgins played collegiately at UTEP, where he concluded his career with 4,545 all-purpose yards, which was the second-best mark in school history. A native of Sweeny, TX, Higgins attended Sweeny high school and was voted as the team's MVP after playing wide receiver, cornerback and quarterback during his junior and senior seasons.
An eight-year NFL veteran, Lee (6-4, 248) has played in 124 career games (64 starts) with the Dolphins (2003-04) and Packers (2005-10). The 30-year old has compiled 198 receptions for 1,875 yards and 19 touchdowns. In 2010, he played in 15 games and had 11 catches for 73 yards and 3 touchdowns, and his best season came in 2007 when he racked up 575 yards and six touchdowns on 48 receptions.