Several sources have reiterated to The OBR at this hour that the deal with Lewis has been completed. This comes from sources close to both the Ravens and the Browns, who are both telling us that it is a one-year deal. At 9:20 pm EST, the Browns VP of communications Bill Bonsiewicz has confirmed to Aaron Wilson of our Baltimore affiliate that the Browns have signed former Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis to a one-year contract.
The pact likely dooms current starter Reuben Droughns, who is due a $1.75 million roster bonus by March 17th. Droughns had a disappointing 2006 campaign after finishing with over 1200 yards in both 2004 and 2005. The former fullback, now going into his eighth season, saw his production fall sharply to 758 yards this year. The Browns had recently stated that they were hopeful Droughns might return to form, but had also talked to Titans RB Chris Brown as well as Lewis during the past week.
Lewis' arrival in Cleveland does have some irony, as the back has tormented the Browns over the years, particularly in 2003. That year, Lewis ran for an NFL-record 295 yards against the Browns.
While Lewis has never repeated his incredible 2,066-yard performance in 2003, he has gained over 900 yards each year since. Last year was his best since 2003, as he gained 1,132 yards on 314 carries, with nine touchdowns. Both yardage and touchdowns were high-water marks since 2003.
Expect reaction from OBR analysts this evening in Ask the Insiders and tomorrow morning in the form of our next installment of Death Chat 2007.
POSTED 8:45 PM EST
Sources close to the Ravens organization are relaying to The OBR at this hour that the Browns have signed running back Jamal Lewis. The OBR is working to confirm. Refresh frequently for updates.
The OBR has been receiving conflicting signals all day long about the status of the negotiations with Lewis. Some sources have been reporting him arriving late, and others suggested that he arrived earlier and had already left. We've been trying to nail it down, so we're not willing to confirm this until we have further information.