Lions reach an agreement, add Duckett to backfield
For the second time in two weeks, the Detroit Lions have bolstered their running back depth chart, with ESPN.com learning that the team on Friday night reached a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent T.J. Duckett.
A former first-round draft choice, Duckett will sign a one-year contract worth between $1.5 million-$2 million.
Last week, the Lions acquired tailback Tatum Bell from Denver in a trade that sent cornerback Dre Bly to the Broncos. There have already been reports that teams have contacted the Lions about possible deals for Bell, who led Denver in rushing in 2006, with 1,025 yards.
Detroit is stockpiling backs to provide itself options in the event that starter Kevin Jones is not fully rehabilitated from the foot injury which sidelined him for the final month of the 2006 season. Jones suffered a Lisfranc sprain and the recovery from that injury can be dicey. It is not yet known if Jones will be ready for training camp.
Duckett, 26, visited with team officials from the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks in recent days and received inquiries from several other clubs. The deal with the Lions returns the Kalamazoo, Mich., native to his home state and provides him an opportunity to jump-start a career that slumped in 2006.
A first-round pick of Atlanta in 2002, Duckett played four seasons for the Falcons, all but one of them productive ones, but was traded to Washington last summer in a three-team deal. He played sparingly for the Redskins, however, carrying just 38 times for 132 yards and appearing in only 10 games.
For his career, Duckett has 2,307 yards and 33 touchdowns on 590 attempts, and also has 31 receptions for 249 yards. He has appeared in 65 games and started in 13 of them. His best season was in 2003, when Duckett rushed for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns while sharing the playing time workload with Warrick Dunn in the Falcons backfield.
A solid short-yardage and goal-line back, as evidenced by the 27 touchdowns he scored 2003-2005, Duckett also possesses surprising elusiveness. His goal is to re-establish himself with the Lions in 2007 and then perhaps go back into the free agent market again next spring.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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