The Cleveland Browns have tried since their return to the league in 1999 to find that one stud running back that could take them to the next level. Wednesday they may have finally gotten their man – and it comes at the expense at one of their biggest rivals. The Browns announced late Wednesday that they have signed now former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis to a one-year deal that with incentives could see him make up to $5 million. Lewis was let go last week by the Ravens for salary cap reasons, but the team said from day one that they wanted to bring their all-time leading rusher back. Now he heads to Cleveland, a team that he ran wild against in the past.
Lewis set an NFL record back in 2003 in a week two game against the Browns, rushing for 295 yards in a 30-13 win in Baltimore. Now he’ll have that shot to do that against his former team. “We are pleased to add Jamal Lewis to our team,” Browns GM Phil Savage said. “He is a proven NFL back who brings a toughness and demeanor to the game.” The signing of Lewis will likely mean the end for current Browns starting running back Ruben Droughns, who may be released instead of kept on the roster, as he is due a $1.75 mil roster bonus later this month.
Last season Lewis rushed for 1,132 yards with nine touchdowns for the Ravens. He was the NFL offensive player of the year in 2003, when he put up record numbers in rushing for 2,066 yards, the second-highest total in league history. Despite the signing, the Browns may still take Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson with the third overall pick in next month’s NFL Draft. For now though, the future is Lewis, a back that can help the Browns in a ton of ways on offense.