Eagles sign Wayne

Linebacker Nate Wayne, who was released in a salary cap move by the Green Bay Packers on Monday, signed a four-year, $13.23 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles today.<p>

Wayne received a $4 million signing bonus, according to espn.com. His base salaries are $530,000 (for 2003), $2 million (2004), $2.2 million (2005) and $4.5 million (2006). The structure of the deal all but dictates that Wayne will rework the contract before 2006. Wayne was schedule to earn $2.25 million in salary and bonus money this year with the Packers.

Wayne, 28, was a three-year starter with the Packers and led the defense with 132 tackles last season. He also had 2 1/2 sacks and three interceptions. A five-year veteran, Wayne started 15 games in 2002. The 6-foot, 237-pound linebacker produced at least 100 tackles in his three seasons with the Packers and totaled 10 sacks and six interceptions.

Wayne will replace Shawn Barber at weakside linebacker. Barber signed with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this month. Mark Simoneau, originally acquired from Atlanta to take Barber's spot, will move into the middle spot.

The Packers approached Wayne about taking a pay cut for this season prior to the Feb. 28 free agency deadline. The Packers reportedly offered incentive clauses to make up the pay cut, but Wayne and his agent felt they could do better on the free agent market. So Lewis asked for the Packers to release his client so he could seek a job with another team.

Wayne will earn $4.53 million (bonus and salary) this year from the Eagles. Plus his $750,000 roster bonus with the Packers is still in dispute because of the timing of his release.

The Packers currently only have one linebacker on the roster who started regularly last year – Na'il Diggs. But Diggs is a restricted free agent and is reportedly drawing interest from the Eagles. Releasing Wayne may be an attempt by the Packers to offer Diggs or perhaps, restricted free agent defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a multiyear contract.

Wayne was due a $750,000 roster bonus Monday, but instead was let go with two years remaining on a four-year contract. The move saved the Packers $1.7 million against this year's salary cap.

Wayne met with the Eagles on Wednesday, the Detroit Lions Thursday and had been scheduled to meet with Cleveland today.

The Packers signed restricted free agent Armegis Spearman to an offer sheet Thursday, but the Cincinnati Bengals are expected to match the three-year offer.

Diggs, Torrance Marshall, Marcus Wilkins and Paris Lenon are currently the only players on Green Bay's roster who were with the team last year. Marshall, thought to succeed the departed Hardy Nickerson at middle linebacker, was moved to the outside behind Wayne. Marshall may be given a chance to start in Wayne's spot, or compete against Wilkins, a second-year pro who made the team as an undrafted free agent last year and played mainly on special teams.

Wayne was a seventh-round Denver draft pick in 1998 who was traded to the Packers in 2000.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, an ex-Green Bay assistant, has signed a number of former Packers. Last year Reid signed wide receiver Antonio Freeman and running back Dorsey Levens. They joined Mike Bartrum, Sean Landeta and Jeff Thomason as Eagles who had played in Green Bay. The Birds' biggest move so far this offseason? A trade with Green Bay, sending defensive back Al Harris and a fourth-round draft choice to the Pack for a second-rounder. And the Eagles' backup plan, should they lose defensive end Hugh Douglas to free agency, is said to be Gbaja-Biamila.


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