Droughns latest tailback on trade market

Updated: March 9, 2007, 2:23 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

In an active tailback market, where three starters have already changed teams via trades in the past week, there figure to be even more deals in coming days.

Reuben Droughns
Droughns

And the player most likely to be traded next is Reuben Droughns of Clevelend, who has been made expendable by the Browns' signing of unrestricted free agent Jamal Lewis to a one-year contract Wednesday night.

League and team sources confirmed to ESPN.com that the Browns are actively shopping Droughns, their starter the past two seasons, in trade talks.

If Cleveland is unable to reach a trade accommodation, Droughns could be released.

Three starting tailbacks from 2006 -- Tatum Bell (from Denver to Detroit), Thomas Jones (from Chicago to the New York Jets) and Willis McGahee (from Buffalo to Baltimore) -- have been traded in the past week.

Droughns, 28, is due a $1.75 million roster bonus March 17, and the Browns almost certainly want to avoid paying it, especially after acquiring Lewis, who has already been penciled in as the starter. Droughns is scheduled to have a base salary of $1.25 million for 2007.

He is due base salaries of $1.75 million for 2008 and $2.75 million for '09.

A seven-year veteran, Droughns, 28, came to the Browns from Denver in a 2005 trade, after rushing for 1,240 yards in 2004. He gained 1,232 yards in 2005, his first year in Cleveland, and the Browns rewarded him with a three-year contract extension worth $12 million. But Droughns slumped to 758 yards in 2006 and there have been some off-field problems in the past year.

When Lewis became available, the Browns moved quickly to sign him, and there is also a chance Cleveland will use its first-round choice in the 2007 draft to take Oklahoma tailback Adrian Peterson.

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