|Source: Jamal Lewis agrees to deal with Browns|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 21 February 2008 12:18|
The club will sign Lewis once the contract's language is completed by his agent, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet official.
Lewis was to become an unrestricted free agent next week. But the Browns, who went 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs last season, didn't want to risk losing him.
The Browns are believed to have relented and added a third year to an initial two-year offer they made for the 28-year-old running back.
Lewis is represented by agent Mitch Frankel. Frankel's office said he was traveling to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, presumably to finish the deal.
Lewis proved he could be an effective every-down back in 2007. After signing a one-year, incentive-laded free-agent deal with Cleveland in March, he gained 1,304 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Only Hall of Famer Jim Brown has run for more yards in a season for the Browns. Lewis was just the Browns' second 1,000-yard rusher since 1985.
Lewis came to Cleveland after seven years in Baltimore. At the time he signed, there were questions about Lewis' durability and speed, but he answered them all with his best season since leading the NFL with 2,066 yards in '03.
In doing so, Lewis validated general manager Phil Savage's belief the former first-round draft pick still could be productive. The two worked together for five years in Baltimore.
Behind Cleveland's revamped offensive line, Lewis ran with the same brutal tenacity that helped him gain 7,801 yards with the Ravens. He underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle in the offseason, which seemed to give Lewis back some lost quickness.
Following the comeback season, Lewis said he liked Cleveland and wanted to remain with the Browns, who won a club record seven home games and were kept out of the AFC playoffs only by a tiebreaker.
In addition to performing beyond expectations, Lewis counseled younger players, who were impressed by his tireless work ethic.
``Jamal has matured quite a bit since he's come into the league,'' Savage said following the season. ``He's been an excellent leader quietly behind the scenes. He's a real pro and takes care of himself.''
With Lewis under contract, Savage can turn his attention to quarterback Derek Anderson.
Savage will meet in Indianapolis with Anderson's agents about completing a long-term deal before Anderson can become a restricted free agent. The Browns have offered Anderson a three-year deal and Savage is optimistic an agreement can be reached before the 24-year-old hits the market.
Anderson made the Pro Bowl following a breakout 2007 season. He threw 29 TD passes after starting the season as Charlie Frye's backup.