WHEN FREE AGENCY began in early March, defensive tackle Ian Scott hoped for a quick, lucrative outcome.

And with good reason. The 6-2, 302-pounder started 30 games the last three seasons for a Chicago Bears team that reached the Super Bowl last season and finished fifth in the NFL in defense.

But Scott quickly discovered that, this year, NFL teams were a lot more willing to throw ridiculous money at offensive guards than blue-collar defensive tackles.

"At the beginning, I was anxious," he said yesterday after signing a 1-year deal with the Eagles. "The first couple of weeks, a lot of people were getting signed. You see a lot of people going different places. You're sitting there, wondering, 'When is it going to be my turn?'

"My agent said teams need to call you if they want you. You can't make anybody like you. So, I had to sit by the phone, kind of like the draft, and wait for somebody to call and say we want to bring you in for a visit."

Scott ended up visiting the Vikings, Falcons, Broncos and Patriots before signing with the Eagles.

"Things didn't go the way I expected them to early on [in free agency]," Scott said. "I was just waiting for the best opportunity to come around. I'm excited to be a part of the team here. Being a part of an organization that every year has a chance to win a Super Bowl, that's what it's all about."

Scott is the second defensive tackle the Eagles have signed in free agency. In late March, they added former Colt Montae Reagor, whose strength is rushing the passer.

"We brought him in to be that second down-and-long, third down-and-long pass rusher," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said of Reagor.

Scott, who has only two career sacks, is a lunch-bucket lineman who plays hard every snap and does a good job defending the run. A scout for an NFC North team likened him to Paul Grasmanis, another former Bear who later played for the Eagles.

"I've developed an ability to stay where I'm supposed to be at," Scott said. "I take pride in being in the right spot where the defense is designed for me to be. That's my main goal on every snap, every play. Being where I'm supposed to be. Because there are guys on the other side [of the line] who are trying to get you out of where you're supposed to be."

Last season, opposing teams got the Eagles' tackles out of where they were supposed to be with great regularity, a big reason the Birds finished 26th in the league against the run (136.4 yards per game) and tied for 24th in yards allowed per carry (4.5).

Scott, 25, becomes the sixth defensive tackle on the roster, joining Reagor, returning starter Mike Patterson, '06 first-round pick Brodrick Bunkley, Sam Rayburn and LaJuan Ramsey. The Eagles likely will keep only five on their season-opening roster.

Johnson likes to use a four-man rotation at both tackle and end. Bunkley has been penciled in as the starting right tackle alongside Patterson. Reagor, Scott, Rayburn and second-year man Ramsey will battle it out for the other two spots in the rotation.

Scott said Johnson's preference for rotating his tackles was a big reason he decided to sign with the Eagles.

"The way they do things here, everybody plays," he said. "They rotate guys. The guys that are No. 3 and 4 play almost as much as the guys who are 1 and 2.

"I'm no stranger to competition, and I'm not afraid of doing that. I'm looking forward to coming in and trying to earn some playing time on a good football team."

Scott, who started 26 games for the Bears in '04 and '05, opened last season as a starter, but was eventually replaced by NRA poster boy Tank Johnson.

"The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions," Scott said. "From playing in the Super Bowl and losing, to free agency, to having to sit around and wait. My emotions have been all over the spectrum. My wife, Crystal, has been great in encouraging me and keeping me even-keeled through the whole situation. Now, it's over and I can focus on playing football."

Yesterday's signing didn't come without a personal sacrifice. His trip to Philadelphia forced him to miss his older daughter's second birthday.

The upside is he finally has a new job and the Eagles have a tackle who should make running the ball against them a little more difficult next season.

Roster moves

The Eagles released linebacker Greg Richmond, quarterback Jeff Mroz and running back Antoine Bagwell.

The Eagles released linebacker Greg Richmond, quarterback Jeff Mroz and running back Antoine Bagwell.

Richmond was the most notable of the three. He was a candidate for the strongside linebacker job last year before suffering a back injury and getting released. He was re-signed to the practice squad in December. *