Filling their need for a proven running back to team with youngster Brandon Jacobs, the New York Giants on Friday acquired Reuben Droughns from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for wide receiver Tim Carter, ESPN.com has learned.
Cleveland has been shopping Droughns in trade talks since signing unrestricted free agent tailback Jamal Lewis to a one-year contract earlier this week. The Giants were seeking a tailback to replace the retired Tiki Barber.
Droughns, 28, should provide the Giants a solid insurance policy and a veteran and tested back who can share the ball-carrying chores with Jacobs, a two-year veteran. Jacobs has been the complementary back to Barber, playing mostly in short-yardage and goal-line situations in his two NFL seasons.
A fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft, Jacobs has logged only 134 career carries for 522 yards, but has scored 16 touchdowns. Last season, the former Southern Illinois standout rushed for 423 yards and nine TDs on 96 attempts.
Droughns 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.
He was due a $1.75 million roster bonus on March 17 but the Browns wanted 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 and is due base salaries of $1.75 million for '08 and $2.75 million for '09 under his Cleveland contract. It was not immediately known if he reworked his contract to help accommodate the trade.
For Carter, the deal represents a chance for a fresh start after five injury-marred seasons with the Giants.
"Tim is absolutely excited about this opportunity," agent Pat Dye Jr. said on Friday afternoon. "In discussing Tim's situation with the Giants, we wanted to identify some teams who might be a good fit for him if New York decided to deal him. Obviously the Browns, who were looking for the kind of deep-threat dimension he brings to the table, were the most proactive."
Carter, 27, was a second-round choice of the Giants in 2002. The former Auburn standout possesses sprinter's speed, but a series of injuries have kept him from fulfilling his potential. He has 72 career receptions for 967 yards and three touchdowns in 33 games, including 11 starts. Last season, Carter started eight games and had 22 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
In an active market, Droughns is the fourth starting-caliber tailback to be traded in the past week. The other tailbacks to be traded were Tatum Bell (from Denver to Detroit), Thomas Jones (from Chicago to the New York Jets) and Willis McGahee (from Buffalo to Baltimore).
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.