It appears that one of the worst offensive units in football could be looking for a running back this offseason as veteran Jamal Lewis claims that this very well could be his last year in the NFL. Following another drubbing – this time at the hands of the Chicago Bears – Lewis had the following to say to reporters:
“It is very hard,” he said. “Very. I think this is my last year. I think this is it. Honestly, the way it looks, you know, I had a good run.”
Lewis acknowledged that finishing with the Browns stuck in a miserable season is not the easiest way to go out.
“But at the same time, I stuck my neck out and wanted to come in and help and do what I could do, even though I knew the consequences,” he said. “I knew what we had and what was going to go with it, being that you do have new people coming in, new coaches, new staff, and all that — there’s a lot that comes with that.”
When asked if these words could be a product of another loss that brings out more emotion than reality, Lewis countered.
“When I talk, I mean what I say and I think you all know that.”
There is no denying the fact that things have not exactly been roses for Lewis since the 2007 season where everything clicked for the Browns. He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark seven times and may be more known for his runs against the Browns than those while wearing the Cleveland uniform. Many felt that Lewis may not have much left in the tank as it is, so if he were to stick to his words, it would not be much of a surprise.
On a Browns team that is rebuilding from the top down, there is little place for a back of Lewis’ nature aside from the potential leadership role. This would leave the Browns with rookie back James Davis along with situational back Jerome Harrison as the team heads into the free agency period as well as the 2010 NFL Draft – just over 120 days away.
Free agent running backs include Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Pierre Thomas among others. Clemson’s CJ Spiller is widely considered the best senior running back at the collegiate level, but would require a mid-first round selection at the very least. Charles Scott (LSU), Chris Brown (Oklahoma), and Ben Tate (Auburn) would likely also garner some attention.
We constantly hear that a good running game sets up the passing game. And with both portions of the Browns offense being a disaster, and a vast portion of team payroll being spent on the offensive line, not addressing the running back between now and next spring would be a huge blow to any sort of progress of a team that is on pace to barely eclipse the 150-point mark for the 2009 season.
Jamal Lewis plans to retire after season [Associated Press]
(image via Flickr)