PHILADELPHIA - So much for the Eagles taking a conservative approach in free agency.
After making a quick impact by signing five players Tuesday, they continued their flurry of activity Thursday by landing outside linebacker Connor Barwin (Houston), safety Kenny Phillips (New York Giants) and cornerback Cary Williams (Baltimore).
"We didn't go into free agency expecting to sign so many players," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said at the NovaCare Complex. "But we saw an opportunity to add guys who come from winning organizations, who have played in Super Bowls, who play with their hair on fire and have high motors. They give us an opportunity to change the culture here, and we couldn't pass that up."
Roseman, coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis were so enamored with Barwin's potential that they offered him a six-year contract reportedly worth $36 million.
Barwin, 26, registered 109 tackles 19 sacks, two fumble recoveries and 16 passes deflected in four seasons with Houston. The 6-foot-4, 298-pounder enjoyed his best season in 2011 when he shifted to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense and ranked third in the AFC with 11 sacks. He played alongside current Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans for three seasons with the Texans.
"Crazy couple of days," Barwin said via Twitter Thursday. "Hard to put into words."
Barwin could wind up being among six defensive starters this season for the Eagles who weren't on the team a week ago, including their entire secondary.
Two days before signing Phillips and Williams, they grabbed safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Bradley Fletcher. Fletcher and Williams will duel with returnees Brandon Boykin and Curtis Marsh for the right to replace 2012 starters Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Chung and Phillips will challenge Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman.
Asomugha was released on Tuesday and has yet to re-sign with another team. Rodgers-Cromartie became a free agent and signed with Denver on Wednesday.
"Obviously we had to replace some guys," Roseman said. "But no one's guaranteed anything on March 14. Talk to me in September. There's going to be a lot of competition at all positions and the best guys are going to weed themselves out."
Some of the new defensive backs have durability questions, however.
Chung was limited to 20 games total games in the last two seasons because of undetermined injuries and played just two snaps in the Patriots' loss to Baltimore in the AFC championship game. Fletcher suffered two serious knee injuries in the last four years. Phillips, the Giants' 2008 first-round draft pick, played in only seven games this season because of knee troubles.
Williams, who signed a three-year deal worth $16.5 million, played in all 32 games the last two seasons for the Ravens while helping them win the Super Bowl, but has a reputation for fighting. He got into a scuffle with Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson this season and also got some flak for making contact with a referee during the Super Bowl against San Francisco.
If they are all healthy and focused, however, they should provide a significant upgrade for an Eagles secondary that struggled for most of 2012 under former defensive coordinators Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles.
The key will be forming a bond with the other new players and the returning veterans.
"My name's Patrick Chung, and I'm bleeding green, baby," Chung said Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. "Happy to be here, man. You know, happy to have my new teammates, new families, new brothers. Let's get this thing going.
"Everybody should be ready to improve on everything. If you're good at something, you can be great. If you (stink) at something, you can be good. So whatever kind of player you want to be, you can be. If you want to be an average player, you can be average. If you want to be a legend, you need to work at it."
By adding so many players - in addition to Barwin, Chung, Fletcher, Phillips and Williams, they also signed tight end/fullback James Casey, linebacker Jason Phillips (no relation) and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga - the Eagles may have given themselves some flexibility when it comes to next month's draft.
Because of the holes on defense, it was widely speculated the Eagles would use the No. 4 overall pick on prospects such as Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner or Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan.
They could still go in that direction, but may take a chance on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith or Alabama guard Chance Warmack.
"One of the exciting things is that we can go in any direction in the draft and take the best player available," Roseman said. "There won't be any big gaps in our depth chart. There won't be any 'have to's' on our draft board."
Contact David Weinberg: