Browns acquire Jamal Lewis
The Cleveland Browns agreed to a one-year deal with free agent running back Jamal Lewis on Wednesday.
The Baltimore Ravens released Lewis last week. The 27-year-old was due to receive a $5-million US bonus, but the Ravens had expressed interest in re-signing him at a reduced salary.
Lewis rebounded last season after a subpar 2005 to finish with 1,132 yards and nine rushing touchdowns, though his yards-per-carry average remained well off the pace of his peak seasons.
"We are pleased to add Jamal Lewis to our team," Browns general manager Phil Savage said in a statement. "He is a proven NFL back who brings a toughness and demeanour to the game that his teammates and our fans will appreciate."
Lewis was drafted fifth overall in the 2000 draft by Baltimore and has rushed for 7,801 yards during his tenure with the Ravens. In his rookie season, he rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown in a Super Bowl win over the New York Giants.
After suffering a career-threatening knee injury, Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003, the second highest single-season total in NFL history.
Lewis was arrested as part of an FBI cocaine sting one year later. As a result of a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to using a cellphone to help facilitate a drug buy and was sentenced to four months in prison.
Reuben Droughns, Cleveland's starting running back the past two seasons, is still on the Browns roster but was slowed last year by injuries. The team owesDroughns a $1.75-million roster bonus later this month, but may choose to cut him instead.
Baltimore, meanwhile,will likelyhave to pursue a veteran running back through free agency or a trade. The Baltimore Sun reported that the team had been considering working out adeal with Buffalo for Bills running back Willis McGahee.
Free agent running backs who still haven't signed include Chris Brown,last with Tennessee, Dominic Rhodes (Indianapolis) and Corey Dillon (New England).
With files from the Associated Press