Ex-Giant hasn't rushed for 700 yards since rookie year

A busy day for the Broncos was capped off with the signing of unresticted free agent and former first-round pick Ron Dayne.

Updated: April 3, 2005, 10:55 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

On a day when the Denver Broncos front office was busy on the signing front, the team's several moves included the addition of a veteran who hasn't been very busy at all the last few seasons, as the club reached a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent tailback Ron Dayne.

The 1999 Heisman Trophy winner, one of the most notable first-round busts in recent years, will sign a one-year contract, details of which were not yet available.

Denver also re-signed three players. They included a pair of unrestricted free agents, defensive tackle Luther Elliss and tight end Patrick Hape, and restricted free agent defensive tackle Monsanto Pope. Contract details were not available on any of those deals, either, although it is known that Hape and Elliss signed one-year contracts.

Ron Dayne
Running Back
New York Giants
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
52 179 1 1 7 0

But simply on name value alone, and given the notoriety he earned during a dubious five-year stint with the New York Giants, the addition of Dayne was the day's headliner. The former Wisconsin star, selected by the Giants with the 11th overall pick in the 2000 draft, will join a typically crowded tailback depth chart in Denver.

Even with the departure of 2004 starter Reuben Droughns, who rushed for 1,240 yards in '04 but who was traded to the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday evening, the Broncos still possess a cadre of young and talented backs. Dayne, 27, will certainly have to fight for playing time and carries, provided he makes the regular-season roster.

One of the college game's most celebrated runners over the last decade, Dayne's success on campus did not carry over to the NFL, and he became a source of frustration for some Giants officials and coaches.

In five seasons, Dayne started just 13 contests in 62 appearances, rushing for 2,067 yards and 16 touchdowns on 585 carries. As a rookie, Dayne gained 770 yards and that remains his career high. He followed up that effort with 690 yards and a career-best seven touchdowns in 2001, but then faded into near-oblivion.

Over the final two seasons in New York, he failed to play a single down in 2003 and logged only 52 attempts in 2004. Coach Tom Coughlin vowed in his first season with the Giants in 2004 to provide Dayne a chance to resurrect his career. But Coughlin was seeking a power runner for short-yardage and goal-line situations and Dayne still fancied himself a back capable of breaking off long runs.

The Giants made no attempt to re-sign Dayne as a free agent.

Pope, 27, emerged in 2004 as a solid interior presence against the run, starting in 15 games and playing well most of the year. The three-year veteran, a seventh-round pick in 2002, is an active defender with a good future.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Elliss, a 10-year veteran who has suffered through a series of injuries the past few seasons, and who appeared in just eight games in 2004. Elliss spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Detroit Lions and the former first-round pick was at one time among the NFL's best inside defenders. He has 129 appearances and has recorded 331 tackles and 29 sacks. Last season, he recorded seven tackles and two sacks.

Hape is a versatile eight-year veteran who can line up at tight end, H-back and fullback and who is also a contributor on special teams. Hape, 30, has never caught more than 15 passes in a season but is a clever receiver in the "red zone," as evidenced by 11 touchdowns on just 51 receptions.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.