J. Lewis replaced by Anderson, Scott signs

OWINGS MILLS -- Mike Anderson seized Jamal Lewis' old spot in the Baltimore Ravens backfield Sunday night as the former Denver Broncos running back agreed in principle on a four-year, $8 million contract, his agent confirmed. Plus, Baltimore retained linebacker Bart Scott and struck a deal with defensive tackle Justin Bannan. Anderson, 32, is a former Marine who produced 1,014 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

He beat out Lewis for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2000.
Ironically, Lewis might be swapping places with Anderson. Lewis' agent, Mitch Frankel, confirmed that the former Pro Bowl runner plans to visit the Broncos today. He appeared surprised to learn of the Ravens' pending deal with Anderson.
Anderson's agent, Peter Schaffer, called the Ravens' situation "intriguing" because Lewis is now out of the picture and Chester Taylor joined the Minnesota Vikings. Anderson received a $2 million signing bonus.
In six seasons, the 6-foot, 230-pound Anderson has rushed for 3,822 yards and 36 touchdowns and missed the entire 2004 season with a groin injury. After the Ravens declined to assign him a $6 million franchise tag last month, Lewis declined to accept their two-year, incentive-laden offer that included a signing bonus.
Lewis gained a career-low 906 yards last season following a four-month federal prison sentence for a drug charge and ankle surgery. The franchise's all-time leading rusher often complained about a lack of communication with Ravens coach Brian Billick and a reduced workload.
The Ravens' most attractive fallback option disappeared when Edgerrin James signed a $30 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
Because of Anderson's age, it's likely that the Ravens will consider using the 13th overall pick on a running back such as Memphis' DeAngelo Williams or USC's LenDale White.
Meanwhile, Scott walked out of the Cleveland Browns' training complex Sunday after turning down the Browns' larger, longer contract offer to rejoin the Ravens.
Scott agreed to a three-year contract worth $13.5 million that includes a $6.5 million signing bonus and base salaries of $1 million in 2006, $2.6 million in 2007 and $3.4 million in 2008.
Browns general manager Phil Savage offered Scott a five-year proposal worth $25 million and tried to persuade him to remain in Cleveland overnight to think it over.
Ultimately for Scott, 25, it came down to loyalty over dollars. He'll earn an average of $500,000 less per year in Baltimore.
"All along, Baltimore is the place where I wanted to be," Scott said. "It took me a trip to Cleveland to get there, but I didn't care how I got back there."
Scott proved his worth as a starter last season in relief of an injured Ray Lewis, posting a career-high 119 tackles and four sacks in 10 starts.
"Bart was true to his word," said Harold Lewis, Scott's agent. "He's a loyal guy and he really likes the Ravens' owner [Steve Bisciotti]. He's sneaking out of the Browns' building right now."
Baltimore reached a four-year agreement with Bannan that includes a $3 million signing bonus.
Team spokesman Kevin Byrne confirmed the agreements with Scott and Bannan that could be formally signed as soon as today along with four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Trevor Pryce who agreed to a $25 million contract Saturday.
Bannan, 26, started seven of the Buffalo Bills' final eight games after initially backing up Sam Adam and registered a career-high 40 tackles and 1 ½ sacks. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder has 78 career tackles and 2 ½ sacks in 55 games. He canceled visits to the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints.
Bannan is known as a hustling lineman who's adept in pursuit. He replaces Maake Kemoeatu, who signed a $23 million deal with the Carolina Panthers.
"It's an excellent fit for Justin in Baltimore," said Jack Mills, Bannan's agent. "Justin is an extremely high-effort guy who will be very productive and a positive force in the locker room.
"Justin's not a big, fat guy. He's a strong, athletic guy with technique who never takes a down off."
The Ravens attempted to sign former Oakland Raiders nose guard Ted Washington, 37, but he signed a two-year, $7 million deal with Cleveland.
Punter Dave Zastudil signed a five-year contract with his hometown Browns. The Ohio University graduate and 2002 fourth-round draft pick averaged a career-high 43.5 yards per punt last season.
During the first two days of free agency, the Ravens added Anderson, Scott, Bannan and Pryce. They lost four of their own unrestricted free agents: Kemoeatu, defensive end Tony Weaver (Houston Texans, $26.5 million), Taylor and Zastudil.
Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times.

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