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Potential Bills: LB Bart Scott

Ravens LB Bart Scott (Post-Gazette)

During the process of identifying the Buffalo Bills' biggest positional needs, the Buffalo Rumblings community nearly unanimously listed a pass-rushing defensive end as the one spot where the Bills most desperately needed an upgrade. Tight end, center and outside linebacker closely followed. We have already begun the process of profiling potential Bills free agents; for reference now and in the future, all of these profiles will be available at this link.

With the NFL's free agent signing period set to begin less than one month from today (midnight on February 27), we here at Rumblings are now starting the process of profiling several top-notch free agents that the community has identified as potentially worthy of donning the red, white and blue in 2009. Even after signing LB Kawika Mitchell as an unrestricted free agent last off-season, the Bills still have a need for an athletic playmaker at outside linebacker (especially since Angelo Crowell's return is unlikely). One of the more interesting and hard-to-define names amongst this year's free agent crop is Ravens linebacker Bart Scott. Though he plays second fiddle to some of the league's greatest defensive players in Baltimore, Scott has quietly enjoyed a very productive seven-year career after making the cut as an undrafted free agent in 2002. At 29, however, major questions surround Scott, particularly regarding his ability to be a good player outside of Baltimore.

Bart Scott
Age 29 at start of 2009 season
6'2", 240 pounds
7-year NFL veteran out of Southern Illinois

With LB Angelo Crowell an unrestricted free agent and likely on his way out of Buffalo (despite his recent public comments), the Bills will once again be searching for an outside linebacker to play in front of the often-overmatched Keith Ellison. With several viable options available at outside linebacker this year, Baltimore's Scott could be one of the first to switch teams. Scott is an inside linebacker in Baltimore's general 3-4 defensive front, and many believe that his stats are inflated as Ravens opponents key on his interior teammate, the great Ray Lewis. Still, Scott has played on very good defensive teams and has had some impressive statistical seasons, and though he's pushing the age of 30, he's probably got some years left in the tank.

I'm no authority on the Ravens, but Rexx of Baltimore Beatdown most certainly is. SB Nation's Ravens blogger has some nice things to say about Scott and his time spent in Baltimore, but offers some words of caution as well...

On Scott's future in Baltimore
"Of all the high profile free agents that the Ravens stand to lose, this one looks to be the favorite to part ways with the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent seven years ago out of Southern Illinois. However, if he is willing to accept less with the Ravens they would gladly keep him. At the same time, this team has been the NFL equivalent of Penn State's "Linebacker U" and we have a few great prospects waiting for a chance to take over in the wings."

On whether Scott is a "product of the system"
"Scott to me is a product of the Ravens great system and on another team, may turn out to be relatively invisible, save for his mouth. Most teams focused on keeping Ray Lewis from making tackles, along with Terrell Suggs, and that left Scott free to do his damage. His stats have been off for the past few years since his awesome 2006 season."

Does Scott "Fit the Bill"?
I'm going to come right out and say it: I don't want to see Scott in a Bills uniform. For one, he's less equipped than some of the other linebackers we've covered (or are going to cover) in playing the strong-side in our 4-3 scheme; his coverage skills aren't outstanding and he doesn't have the bulk that you'd like to see in that type of prospect. At age 29, he's not exactly a wise long-term investment, either, particularly considering he'd be asked to do far more outside of Baltimore, not to mention make a position switch. The one positive he would add to Buffalo's defense would be some attitude, but balancing that with his motor mouth and his penchant to take dumb penalties, I'll pass on this guy in every way possibly imaginable. There are just smarter ways to get better defensively, and the fact that this guy played for the Ravens does nothing to convince me that he'd be good in any other NFL city.

Any thoughts on Scott that you'd like to add? Take a gander at his stat line below, vote in the poll, and let's talk some about Bart Scott this afternoon. Many thanks to Rexx for the valuable insight!

Ravens LB Bart Scott
Year G Tk Sk INT FF PD
2002 16 20 0.0 1 0 1
2003 16 22 0.0 0 0 1
2004 13 21 0.0 0 0 0
2005 16 94 4.0 0 0 1
2006 16 103 9.5 2 0 9
2007 16 94 1.0 0 0 5
2008 16 82 1.5 0 2 5
TOT 109 436 16.0 3 2 22