Cleveland Browns: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time
Another instance of the Browns taking from a rival happened here, as Cleveland went after a former Baltimore Ravens star when running back Jamal Lewis hit the open market. Lewis was a Super Bowl Champion and Pro Bowl player for the Ravens, who had his best season in 2003. That year, he rushed for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns for Baltimore — both career highs.
In six seasons with the Ravens (he was there for seven years but missed all of 2001 with a knee injury), Lewis amassed 7,801 yards on the ground and 45 touchdowns. Only once (in 2005 when he had 906 yards) did he fail to hit the 1,000-yard mark while playing for the Browns’ hated AFC North rival.
Then in 2007, he hit free agency and Cleveland came calling. His impact on the club was felt immediately, as Lewis rushed for 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns that season — finally giving the Browns the strong offensive leader that they had been in search of for years. At 28 years old, however, the Browns had to know the running back couldn’t keep up at that pace.
In his second season, Lewis still hit 1,002 yards, but managed just four touchdowns and was averaging only 3.6 yards per attempt. That number dropped to 3.5 in 2009, which ended up being his final year in the NFL. At 30 years old, Lewis was placed on injured reserve and managed to play just nine games. He announced his plans to retire after the season.