PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Eagles made the first big signing of the NFL free agent season Friday, inking longtime New England cornerback Asante Samuel to a six-year deal.
Samuel's departure from Foxborough was not a complete surprise after he claimed he was "underappreciated" by the Patriots and reported late to training camp last summer.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2007, signs with a team that needs a shutdown corner.
The Central Florida product was a fourth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2003. He made 16 interceptions in the last two seasons -- six last season, when he finished with 44 tackles.
"We regarded Asante as the number one available free agent in the NFL, and we're very fortunate to be able to acquire him," said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie in a statement.
In his four-year career, Samuel has returned six interceptions for touchdowns.