Jerome Harrison had been a disappointment all year long, and now he’s gone. The Browns have reportedly traded last year’s season end surprise to the Philadelphia Eagles for backup running back Mike Bell. Both players will have to pass a physical Thursday before the trade is final.
This year, Harrison lost the Browns’ starting running back job to newcomer Peyton Hillis after performing dreadfully in his rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he rushed 16 times for just 33 yards and lost a fumble.
It was against those same Chiefs last season that Harrison became a household name, rushing for a team record 286 yards on 34 carries. That performance not only broke Jim Brown’s 52 year-old team record, but was good for the third highest single game rushing total in NFL history.
But it was a different story this year.
Hillis emerged and better fit the rough and tumble style of play the Browns want to embody. Harrison brooded.
He refused to speak to reporters after the Chiefs loss, and Eric Mangini made an example out of him two weeks later, only sending him to the field for the final kneel down plays of the Browns’ win over Cincinnati.
The Browns appear to be abandoning the “change of pace” running back philosophy, opting for another big short yardage player in Mike Bell. This may make him a more suitable direct backup to Peyton Hillis. If anything, the Browns must have felt they weren’t going to get anything out of Harrison given his mood, recent play, and the tough schedule ahead.
The Eagles alike, must view Harrison as a more direct backup to the smaller and quicker LeSean McCoy. Both McCoy and Hillis are somewhat banged up this week, so this appears to be a good temporary solution for both teams.
Harrison was selected in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL draft by former general manager Phil Savage. Fullback Lawrence Vickers is now the last player from that draft still on the Browns’ roster.
Mike Bell broke into the league with Mike Shanahan’s running back factory Denver Broncos in 2006. He had his best pro game that year Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts, when he relieved starter Tatum Bell and rushed for 135 yards and two scores in one half.
The Broncos cut Bell loose in 2008. He had a cup of coffee with the Houston Texans that summer, and was eventually signed by the New Orleans Saints mid-way through the season. Last year when the Saints won the Super Bowl, he led the team with 172 carries in the regular season. Bell is the second former Saints’ Super Bowl champ to join the Browns this year, after linebacker Scott Fujita.