7-9-02, 12:45 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Darnay Scott, who caught Jeff Blake's first touchdown pass and Boomer Esiason's last touchdown pass and 384 other balls as Cincinnati's pure speed receiver for eight years, is looking for another quarterback.
In what amounted to a trade, the Bengals exchanged former Redskins wide receiver Michael Westbrook's $1.5 million salary cap hit for the $3 million Scott would have counted if the Bengals hadn't released him Tuesday in the hours after Westbrook signed his three-year deal at Paul Brown Stadium.
Scott, who turned 30 Sunday on the same day Westbrook turned 30, had fallen on the wrong side of the Bengals' new offensive regime, a young depth chart, and the club's salary cap. Plus, Westbrook becomes a rarity as a 30-year-old Bengals' receiver. Scott is the fourth-leading receiver in club history, but of that foursome only Isaac Curtis stayed around long enough to catch a pass after turning 30.
After missing minicamp with a sore left shin, Scott stayed true to form and didn't show up for May's four weeks of voluntary workouts. Coaches in the past have tolerated Scott's absences while he was catching 11 touchdowns passes of at least 50 yards in his first six seasons, but this time the Bengals couldn't get a true reading on his health and new offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski wasn't as tolerant with a stable of young receivers behind him.
After missing all of the 2000 season with a left leg broken in two
places, Scott returned last year and made some of his signature big plays. He averaged 92 yards in the Bengals' six victories and ended the season with a monster 152-yard game in Tennessee.
But he also had a career-low two touchdowns and failed to catch a 50-yard pass for the first time in his career.
The similarities with Westbrook and Scott are striking. Not only do they share the same birthday, but they also had 57 catches last year. Scott got 819 yards out of them while Westbrook's 57 led the Redskins for 664 yards and four touchdowns. While Scott sat out all of 2000 with the Aug. 1 broken leg, Westbrook's 2000 season ended when he tore his anterior cruciate knee ligament in the season's second week.
In seven seasons, Westbrook has 277 catches for 4,260 yards for a 15.3 average and 24 touchdowns. In seven seasons, Scott has 386 catches for 5,975 yards for a 15.5 average and 36 touchdowns.