Newly acquired safety Nick Scott explains why signing with Bengals was right decision

‘This team has a shot at winning a championship.’
When Nick Scott entered free agency last week, he said he wanted to go somewhere he felt wanted.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:54 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - After losing both starting safeties for the last three seasons in the first few days of free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals were in desperate need of a new safety. Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell both signed with different NFC South teams.

They were patient and didn’t reach. The front office has a set price tag they are willing to spend on the safety position. Despite the need, the Bengals weren’t going to get antsy and decide against their plan.

Enter former Los Angeles Rams safety, Nick Scott. The Bengals signed Scott to a three-year deal on Monday and moving forward the plan is for Dax Hill and Scott to be the starting safety duo for the foreseeable future.

Scott, a former seventh-round draft pick, spent four seasons with the Rams and played in 64 games. His journey to earning a second contract in the NFL is unique in that he didn’t start for Los Angeles until the playoffs of the 2021 season due to an injury. Scott’s performance helped the Rams defeat the Bengals in Super Bowl 56.

He then entered the 2022 season as the Rams’ starting safety and logged 86 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 17 games.

When Scott entered free agency last week, he wanted to go somewhere he felt wanted.

Cincinnati checked that box.

“One of the first (reasons) being the need for a safety, that’s a no-brainer,” Scott said. “Wanting to be somewhere where I was wanted. Another huge factor just coming out here on this visit and getting a chance to meet coach Lou and coach Rob and just talk ball with them. I’m super exciting about what those guys can do, their scheme and everything like that and how they see me fitting into it. And the other side of that is the family aspect. I grew up in Pennsylvania, so it’s not too far from my family. And most importantly, that this team has a shot at winning a championship.”

The Bengals return most of their starters on defense and offense. Barring any major injuries, Cincinnati has the pieces to contend for Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas.

Getting a player like Scott with starting experiences helps the loss of Bell not seem as drastic. Bell was a three-time captain for the Bengals and a reliable piece for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo in the secondary.

Anarumo’s defense is complex and requires a lot of position flexibility and intelligence. Scott meets those requirements, according to Bengals’ safeties coach Rob Livingston.

“Just the things that he’s done, obviously they’ve been successful (in Los Angeles) on defense,” he said of Scott. “Couple different schemes, I guess he’s been through three coordinators probably in his four years, learning things, playing a variety of roles. This year he obviously blossomed, kind of came into as own as a full-time starter. Just seeing that and seeing the maturation I guess of, ‘OK, first start last year in the playoffs’ to now, ‘OK, I’m a full-time starter’ to how it went at the end of the year.”

Going from a seventh-round pick to a full-time starter is not an easy feat in the NFL. Scott started his career as a core special teams player for the Rams. He knew based off what round he was picked in that would be his role. Not only did he accept it, he excelled at his job.

This led to more trust with the coaching staff and ultimately more playing time on defense.

“I was fortunate to be a rookie that was active and on the field every single game,” Scott said. ‘I just looked at it as a tremendous blessing. Having access to top-tier DBs and everything like that, I was just able to chip away at my game and soak up whatever I could and become a better safety. I just look at it as an extreme blessing. I don’t ever think to myself, ‘Man, I was just special teams for three years’ or anything like that. Football is football at the end of the day. I was having a ton of fun.”

With the Bengals, Scott will play a much bigger role. He’s excited about the opportunity and is already sensing the type of culture the Bengals have built in their locker room. Several players, including Joe Burrow and Mike Hilton, have reached out to him.

It sent a message and it’s one that he’s on board with.

“You’ll find out pretty quick that as a group, we love to have fun, we love to joke around, but when it’s time to put those business suits on, we’re all business and we’re all about winning games,” Hilton told Scott.”

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