Let's take a look at some of the recent moves in the NFL that have taken place through trades and free agency. This article will focus on the running backs who have changed teams. Also check out this spotlight article on NFL quarterbacks on the move.
Expect even more changes to come as the NFL Draft approaches (April 28-29, 2007).
Willis McGahee (Baltimore Ravens)
The Buffalo Bills traded running back Willis McGahee to Baltimore in exchange for the team's third and seventh-round picks in the 2007 NFL draft, along with the Ravens' third-round pick in 2008. Shortly after signing with the Ravens, McGahee signed a new seven-year contract with the last two years as option years. The deal can be worth as much as $40.12 million for McGahee, making him one of the NFL's top five highest-paid running backs. Buffalo traded McGahee because they thought it was going to be very difficult to re-sign him. McGahee spent all of his previous four NFL seasons with the Bills with his best year coming in 2004 when he rushed for 13 touchdowns.
Jamal Lewis (Cleveland Browns)
In late February, the Baltimore Ravens released running back Jamal Lewis. However, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said at the time that they intended to re-sign him. A week later, Lewis signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns. Lewis will receive $3.5 million for one season with the possibility of another $1.5 million in bonuses. The 27-year-old running back had spent seven seasons with Baltimore. His best year came in 2003 when he rushed for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns. During the 2003 season, Lewis the single game rushing record by running for 295 yards against the Browns.
Travis Henry (Denver Broncos)
On March 3, 2007, Travis Henry was released by Tennessee, where he spent the last two seasons. Two days after his release from the Titans, he signed with the Denver Broncos. The teams came to an agreement that would bring Henry to the Broncos while the Titans avoid a $8.3 million roster bonus payment. Henry’s new contract will include $12 million in guarantees over five seasons. Henry rushed for 1,211 yards for the Titans in 2006. The 28-year-old will benefit from being the featured back in Denver's system, which has produced 1,000-yard rushers in five consecutive seasons.
Tatum Bell and TJ Duckett (Detroit Lions)
The Detroit Lions bolstered their backfield with the acquistions of Tatum Bell and TJ Duckett in recent weeks. Bell comes to Detroit via trade with the Denver Broncos. The Lions traded cornerback Dre' Bly and their sixth-round pick to the Broncos for Bell, right tackle George Foster and a fifth-round draft pick. Bell rushed for 1,025 yards last season in Denver, though he also fumbled five times. It is difficult to guess how big of a role Bell will play for the Lions. They needed insurance in the backfield because Kevin Jones is returning after a serious foot injury. He is expected to be ready for the season opener, but no one knows for sure how well he will be able to play. The Lions also signed running back TJ Duckett, who saw little action last year with the Washington Redskins.
Ahman Green (Houston Texans)
Veteran running back Ahman Green signed a four-year, $23 million deal with the Houston Texans. The 30-year-old Green spent the last seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He will be reunited with Texans assistant coach Mike Sherman, who was Green's head coach in Green Bay for six seasons. The Texans used three different starting tailbacks in 2006, as their regular starter, Domanick Williams (formerly Domanick Davis), missed the entire 2006 season due to a knee injury. Green and new quarterback Matt Schaub hope to give the Texans the needed offensive explosiveness the team hasn't had in recent years.
Reuben Droughns (New York Giants)
With the retirement of Tiki Barber, the Giants have a huge hole to fill. Recently, they made a move in the right direction by trading wide receiver Tim Carter to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for running back Reuben Droughns. The 28-year-old Droughns is a talented back who had productive seasons in Cleveland and Denver, however he is very inconsistent. His best season to date was in 2004 when he rushed for 1,240 yards and six touchdowns with the Broncos. Droughns is expected to share the rushing duties with Jacobs to begin the season.
Thomas Jones (New York Jets)
In March, the Chicago Bears traded Thomas Jones and their second-round pick (63rd overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft to the New York Jets in exchange for their second-round pick (37th overall). Jones had spent the last three seasons in Chicago, where he averaged nearly 1,200 rushing yards per year. After the trade, the Jets signed the 28-year-old Jones to a four-year, $20 million extension. The Bears opted for youth - investing in 24-year-old running back Cedric Benson, who split carries with Jones last season. The Jets, who played running back by committee last season, now have a legitimate option in Jones.
Dominic Rhodes (Oakland Raiders)
After an impressive performance in the Super Bowl victory, Rhodes left the Indianapolis Colts for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders, who will return last year's running back starter LaMont Jordan, hope to use Rhodes as a change of pace back who will also compete for the starting job. Rhodes has good experience and has a history of coming up big in big games. This has been a busy summer for Rhodes, who also pled guilty to a drunken driving charge in March.
Other Notable Acquisitions:
- Atlanta Falcons: Joe Horn (WR) from the Saints
- Buffalo Bills: Derrick Dockery (G) from the Redskins
- Dallas Cowboys: Leonard Davis (T) from the Cardinals
- Denver Broncos: Dre Bly (CB) traded from Lions, Daniel Graham (TE) from the Patriots. Brandon Stokley (WR) from the Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Jermaine Wiggins (TE) from the Vikings
- Kansas City Chiefs: Donnie Edwards (LB) from the Chargers
- Miami Dolphins: Joey Porter (LB) from the Steelers, Jay Feely (K) from the Giants
- Minnesota Vikings: Mike Doss (S) from the Colts
- New England Patriots: Donte Stallworth (WR) from the Eagles, Adalius Thomas (LB) from Ravens, Wes Welker (WR) from Miami
- New Orleans Saints: Eric Johnson (TE) from the 49ers, Olindo Mare (K) from the Dolphins, Brian Simmons (LB) from the Bengals
- Philadelphia Eagles: Takeo Spikes (LB) traded from the Bills for Darwin Walker
- San Francisco 49ers: Nate Clemens (CB) from Bills, Ashley Lelie (WR) from the Falcons, Michael Lewis (S) from the Eagles
- Seattle Seahawks: Deon Grant (S) from the Jaguars, Patrick Kerney (DE) from the Falcons
- St. Louis Rams: Drew Bennett (WR) from the Titans, Randy McMichael (TE) from the Dolphins
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kevin Carter (DE) from the Dolphins, Cato June (LB) from the Colts
- Tennessee Titans: Nick Harper (CB) from the Colts
- Washington Redskins: London Fletcher-Baker (S) from the Bills, Fred Smoot (CB) from the Vikings