Eagles sign defensive end Chris Clemons

March 1, 2008 8:31:33 PM PST
Two days into the NFL's free agency period, the Philadelphia Eagles are 2-for-2. Free-agent defensive end Chris Clemons signed a five-year contract with the Eagles on Saturday, a day after Philadelphia added All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel.

Clemons had eight sacks in a reserve role with Oakland last season. He fills the spot vacated by the release of former Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse. Clemons will be part of a four-man rotation with Pro Bowl end Trent Cole, veteran Juqua Thomas and second-year pro Victor Abiamiri.

"If we can get four good ones out there cranking it up and going, that's what we want," coach Andy Reid said, declining to name any starters so soon.

The Eagles moved quickly to lure Samuel away from New England with a six-year deal worth $57 million on Friday. Now Clemons gets a multiyear contract on the same day he visited Philly.

The 26-year-old Clemons began his career with Washington in 2003 as an undrafted rookie from Georgia. After spending his first season on injured reserve, Clemons had five sacks in 20 games with the Redskins in 2004-05. He didn't play in 2006 because of a knee injury.

A linebacker in college and early in his career, Clemons flourished last year after moving to defensive end full time. He was on the field for just 37 percent of Oakland's defensive plays but still tied Derrick Burgess for the team lead in sacks. Clemons also had 20 tackles and forced two fumbles in 16 games, including two starts.

"I've always had it in me," Clemons said. "I just had a couple bad breaks. When I got my opportunity, it all came together."

Clemons is listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, so he's undersized for an end. But he makes up for it with his speed and quickness.

"That all comes down to toughness," Clemons said about facing bigger linemen.

The Eagles now can shift their attention to upgrading their offense, possibly dangling two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard as trade bait for a top receiver.