Browns Corral Running Back Jamal Lewis
Thursday, March 8th 2007, 5:53 am
By: News On 6
Jamal Lewis will have to find another team for his personal patsy. The former 2,000-yard rusher joined the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday night, agreeing to a one-year deal with the club he set an NFL single-game rushing record against.
In 2003, Lewis torched the Browns for 295 yards on the ground. He rushed for 2,066 yards, the second-highest total in league history, that year, and was the league's offensive player of the year.
The free agent was released last week in a salary-cap move by Baltimore, which elected not to pay its career rushing leader a $5 million roster bonus. He'll now try to boost the Browns, who were last in the league in rushing in 2006.
``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 demeanor to the game that his teammates and our fans will appreciate.''
With the 27-year-old Lewis on board, the Browns must decide what to do with incumbent Reuben Droughns. They owe Droughns a $1.75 million roster bonus later this month.
Slowed by injuries, Droughns rushed for just 758 yards last season after gaining 1,232 yards in 2005 _ the first Cleveland back to eclipse 1,000 yards since 1985.
Coach Romeo Crennel recently said he isn't dissatisfied with Droughns. Of course, he didn't have Lewis on the team then.
``He has shown us that he does have the ability, that he can be a productive runner for us,'' Crennel said. ``I expect him to get back to that form that he had. That 1,200-yard form. That's what I'm looking for.''
Denver was looking for a tight end to boost its offense, and got the best available in Daniel Graham. He agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal that includes $15 million in guaranteed money.
New England drafted Graham 21st overall in 2002. He caught 120 passes for 1,393 yards and 17 touchdowns with the Patriots, but recently was primarily a blocker.
The 6-foot-3, 257-pound Graham grew up in Denver and attended the University of Colorado. His father, Tom Graham, played linebacker for the Broncos from 1972 to 1974.
He joins newly signed running back Travis Henry plus two players the Broncos obtained in trades: cornerback Dre' Bly and defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson. Bly is balking at playing for Denver.
Outside linebacker Joey Porter passed his physical and signed a five-year, $32 million contract with the Dolphins. Porter, a three-time Pro Bowler, spent his first eight seasons with the Steelers, who released him last week in a salary-cap move. He ranks fourth in Steelers history with 60 sacks, including seven last year.
Porter joins a defense that ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed and included defensive player of the year Jason Taylor.
``It's great that we were able to acquire a player of Joey's caliber,'' Taylor said. ``He has been an impact player in this league for many years, and when you add someone who has the ability to make plays like he does, it will help not just the defense, but the entire team.''
In other moves:
_Green Bay released 36-year-old fullback William Henderson, leaving Brett Favre as the only member of the 1996 Super Bowl championship team still playing for the Packers.
_New Orleans agreed to terms on a one-year contract with tight end Eric Johnson, and veteran cornerback Fred Thomas agreed to a pay cut.
Johnson, with the San Francisco 49ers the last six years, missed three games in 2006 because of a strained knee and finished with 34 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns. He also missed two of the last four seasons with a broken collarbone in 2003 and a torn foot muscle in 2005. In 2004, however, Johnson had a team-leading 82 catches for 825 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.
_Houston signed journeyman linebacker Danny Clark, who has played with Jacksonville, Oakland and New Orleans.
_Baltimore released 350-pound guard Edwin Mulitalo, who missed most of last season with a torn triceps. ``When you release a player like Edwin, it gives you pause,'' coach Brian Billick said of the 32-year-old eight-year starter. ``This is the cold side of the business. All he did was everything we asked him to do and more. He was always an example to his teammates as to how a professional should conduct himself.''
_Washington released kicker John Hall, a 10-year veteran who missed most of last season with a leg injury.
_Pittsburgh re-signed running back Najeh Davenport, who backed up Willie Parker after being signed last September. The former Packer rushed for 220 yards on 80 carries.
_Atlanta signed cornerback Lewis Sanders, who started seven games for Houston last season.
_Jean-Phillipe Darche, a long snapper who spent seven years in Seattle, signed with Kansas City.