Mike Anderson to sign 4-year deal with Baltimore

Updated: March 12, 2006, 10:57 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

With one free-agent runner already gone and another likely to leave, the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night filled their need for a starting running back by reaching a contract agreement in principle with Mike Anderson.

Mike Anderson
Anderson

Anderson, 32, will sign a four-year, $8 million contract that includes a $2 million signing bonus. The deal will be completed later this week. It's likely the Ravens will also try to bolster their tailback depth chart through the draft.

A six-year veteran and two-time 1,000-yard rusher, Anderson was released by the Denver Broncos last week for salary cap reasons.

Baltimore lost highly regarded backup tailback Chester Taylor when he signed a $14.1 million deal Saturday with the Minnesota Vikings. Starting tailback Jamal Lewis, also an unrestricted free agent, probably will leave the Ravens as well. There have been some discussions aimed at keeping Lewis via a contract extension, but the two sides are not making progress.

Ironically, one of the other teams interested in Lewis, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 2003, is Denver. It's believed Lewis is considering a visit with Broncos officials this week.

The Ravens don't have any other tailbacks on the roster with starting experience, and Anderson is a good fit with the team's power-based offense. It appears the Ravens landed Anderson at a fair price and with a deal that does not put them at too much financial exposure with an older back.

During his Broncos tenure, Anderson appeared in 74 games and started 51 of them. He carried 865 times for 3,822 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also had 79 receptions for 647 yards and five touchdowns.

A former Utah standout, Anderson was a sixth-round choice in the 2000 draft, a late bloomer who did not begin his college career until he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned league rookie of the year honors in 2000 when he rushed for a career-best 1,487 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Over the next four years, Anderson -- who turns 33 in September -- rushed for only 1,321 yards, and he missed the entire 2004 season with a severe groin injury. He rebounded in '05, regained his starting job and posted a team-high 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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