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Eagles add to secondary, sign CB Williams, S Phillips

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Associated Press
3/14/2013 5:30:34 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- Revamping a secondary that posted one of the worst statistical seasons in recent history clearly is a top priority for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The team signed cornerback Cary Williams and safety Kenny Phillips on Thursday, giving them four new faces in the defensive backfield in a three-day span. The Eagles signed safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Bradley Fletcher on the first day of free agency on Tuesday.

They stayed on defence later Thursday, signing linebacker Connor Barwin to a six-year deal shortly afterward.

Gone are former starting cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Asomugha was released in the wake of two disappointing seasons in Philadelphia. Rodgers-Cromartie signed with Denver.

Williams agreed to a three-year deal, and is coming off a big season with the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens. He started all 16 games, posting four interceptions and 67 tackles. A seventh-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2008, Williams joined the Ravens in 2009 and earned a starting role in 2011. The 28-year-old Williams has started all 32 games for Baltimore since 2011.

Williams and Fletcher are the leading candidates for the two starting spots with holdover Brandon Boykin keeping his spot as the nickel cornerback.

Phillips comes to Philadelphia after five seasons with the rival New York Giants. A first-round selection of the Giants in 2008, the 26-year-old Phillips had four interceptions and 72 tackles in 2011, as New York won the Super Bowl. A former Miami Hurricane, Phillips has battled knee injuries throughout his career.

Phillips will probably compete with Nate Allen to start alongside Chung.

In four seasons with Houston, Barwin had 109 tackles, 19 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Barwin was a second-round pick (46th overall) in 2009. He missed most of the 2010 season with a broken right ankle, then moved to outside linebacker from defensive end when Wade Phillips became the co-ordinator and converted the Texans to a 3-4 defence.

Barwin flourished in the new system in 2011, leading the Texans with 11 1/2 sacks. He set a single-game franchise record with four in a game against Jacksonville. He had only three sacks in 16 starts last season, a dip in production partially due to the emergence of J.J. Watt.

The Eagles gave up 25 touchdown passes and managed only one interception in their last 10 games en route to a 4-12 finish that cost coach Andy Reid his job.

Philadelphia allowed 444 points last season. Only New Orleans (454) was worse in the NFC.

Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and defensive end Cullen Jenkins were the four top defensive acquisitions before the 2011 "Dream Team" season. The Eagles finished 8-8 that year, and now all four are gone.

Kenny Phillips (Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images)
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