The Eagles reentered the free-agent phase of their off-season yesterday by signing a defensive tackle known for his ability to stop the run.
After visiting with the New England Patriots a day earlier, Ian Scott signed a one-year deal with the Eagles. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but he likely received slightly more than the veteran minimum salary of $595,000. He made $460,000 last season with the Chicago Bears and started in 10 of the team's 19 games, including their Super Bowl loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The chances of the Eagles' continuing their late free-agent spending by signing veteran wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson are slim to none. Johnson, released earlier this week by Carolina, had been linked in a few reports to possibly signing with the Eagles, but a league source said that scenario is highly unlikely.
It sounded as if Scott, 25, was lured to the Eagles by the potential for more playing time than he might have received in New England.
"I think the competition was pretty much the same everywhere," said Scott, a fourth-round draft choice by the Bears in 2003. "The way they do things here is that everybody plays. They like to rotate guys. The guys that are number three and four play almost as much as one and two. I'm no stranger to competition; I'm looking forward to doing that. I'm looking forward to coming in and earning some playing time on a good football team."
Scott's addition gives the Eagles a blend of youth and experience at the defensive tackle position and likely puts Sam Rayburn's tenure with the team in serious jeopardy. Earlier this off-season, the Eagles signed veteran defensive tackle Montae Reagor to a three-year deal. Reagor, who'll turn 30 next month, previously played with the Indianapolis Colts.
With Scott and Reagor on board, third-year player Mike Patterson and second-year man Brodrick Bunkley, the team's No. 1 draft picks in 2005 and 2006, respectively, will be pushed to perform at a high level as the starters at defensive tackle. The Eagles typically keep five players at the position, and LaJuan Ramsey seems more likely to remain with the team than Rayburn.
In his four seasons with the Bears, Scott started 33 of the 49 games he appeared in and recorded 155 tackles, including 18 for a loss. He also had two sacks and an interception. Scott, who played with Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard at Florida, lost his starting job to Tank Johnson in Chicago early last season but returned to the lineup after a season-ending injury to Bears star defensive tackle Tommie Harris,
Scott, listed at 6-foot-3 and 302 pounds, said his playing weight has fluctuated during his career.
"I've been as much as 320 and as low as 295," he said, saying that he's most comfortable between 310 and 315 pounds.
Though he said he doesn't like labels, Scott didn't deny that one of his strengths is stopping the run.
"I take pride in being in the right spot where the defense is designed for me to be," Scott said. "That's my main goal on every play."
Scott's lasting memory of the Super Bowl was the confetti falling after the game, and it wasn't a fond recollection.
"You don't want to lose the Super Bowl," he said. "Losing is a big letdown. It was real bad this year. It was raining and confetti was sticking everywhere. That would be fine if you won, but when you lose, it's really annoying. I'm looking forward to getting back there as soon as I can and winning this time."
The Eagles released three players yesterday, cutting ties with linebacker Greg Richmond, running back Antoine Bagwell and quarterback Jeff Mroz.