PHILADELPHIA — Asante Samuel has such good hands and terrific instincts that the All-Pro cornerback rarely drops the ball, one reason why he has 16 interceptions the last two years.
The Eagles instincts were on the ball, too, that Samuel was the kind of playmaker they desperately needed to strengthen a defense that recorded an NFL-worst 19 takeaways in 2007.
Philadelphia got its first one of 2008, signing the free-agent cornerback to a six-year contract Friday and ending Samuel's five-year stint in New England.
"I just want a chance to be able to win and get back to the Super Bowl," Samuel said. "That's why I picked the Philadelphia Eagles."
Samuel, an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection this past season, has 22 career interceptions in 75 games. "We regarded Asante as the No. 1 available free agent in the NFL," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said.
The Eagles wasted little time making an offer, reportedly worth around $57-million with $20-million guaranteed, on the first day of the free agent period.
Ex-USF linebacker Mitchell heads to Bills
Linebacker Kawika Mitchell signed a five-year contract with the Bills, cashing in on the first day of free agency after playing for the Super Bowl champion Giants.
Mitchell, a former USF standout, is a five-year veteran who started all 16 games for the Giants last season, after being the team's only notable free-agent addition a year ago. He had 87 tackles, 3½ sacks and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown against the Bills.
"I could say, from this point exactly last year, to this point today, it has been an unbelievable year," he said. "I started working out last week, so it's time to move on."
Buffalo, showing it's only getting started revamping a porous defense that finished 31st last season, then made a surprise move by terminating the contract of veteran tackle Larry Tripplett, who had three years left on a contract he signed in 2006.
49ERS: After two much-criticized naming rights agreements with corporate sponsors over the past 12 years, the team and city officials formally announced their aging stadium will be known as Candlestick Park for the rest of its days.
BRONCOS: Javon Walker got his wish when the oft-injured receiver was released. Walker, a former FSU standout, started last season with two 100-yard games before missing two months after a third operation on his right knee. He finished with 26 catches for 287 yards and no touchdowns. The team had tried to trade him but found no takers and released him to avoid having to pay a $5.4-million option bonus. Walker made it clear toward the end of the season that he wasn't willing to restructure his contract.
COLTS: Defensive tackle Ed Johnson, undrafted out of Penn State but started all 16 games as a rookie last season, received a one-year offer as an exclusive- rights free agent.
COWBOYS: Due to a scheduling conflict at the Alamodome in San Antonio, the team announced it would conduct camp in the summer in Oxnard, Calif.
DOLPHINS: Josh McCown will try to succeed at quarterback where 12 others have failed since Dan Marino retired after the '99 season. McCown, brother of Bucs backup Luke, signed a two-year deal.
JAGUARS: Free agent Jerry Porter signed a six-year, $30-million deal. The team also completed a trade for former first-round pick Troy Williamson and signed quarterback Cleo Lemon. The club also gave three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud permission to seek a trade.
LIONS: Instead of dealing defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to the Bengals, the club traded him to Cleveland, the Associated Press reported. The team acquired cornerback Leigh Bodden and a third-round pick from the Browns after the deal with Cincinnati for third- and fifth-round picks fell through.
PATRIOTS: Running back Kevin Faulk passed a drug test this week after he was cited for marijuana possession while going into a concert, his agent said.
RAMS: Jeff Wilkins, the team's career leading scorer and the best active long-range kicker in the NFL, announced his retirement after 14 seasons.
SEAHAWKS: Reserve offensive lineman Tom Ashworth's contract was terminated.
TEXANS: Defensive tackle Cedric Killings, who broke his neck in September against the Colts, said he will retire.
DISABILITY PROGRAM: The league and its players union have modified their disability program. The changes, made Thursday, include doubling the payment for nonfootball "total and permanent" disability for retired players from $20,000 a year to $40,000. If a player's pension is more than $40,000, he will receive that.