The Browns have plenty of running backs on the roster, but only Reuben Droughns has proven himself worthy of being an NFL starter, with back-to-back 1,000-yard NFL seasons.
Last year the Browns gave William Green permission to seek a trade through his agent, Tom Condon, but no team even offered a seventh-round pick for him. Their hesitancy proved well-founded; Green worked hard in the 2005 off-season and early preseason, but earned only 20 carries and gained just 78 yards in the regular season.
Likewise, the Browns are prepared to move past Lee Suggs after drafting Jerome Harrison from Washington State in the fifth round last month. The Browns are willing to trade Suggs, but so far no team has made an offer.
Suggs finished 2004 with great promise with three straight 100-yard games, but even after that, general manager Phil Savage realized Suggs' injury history made him a risk, so he traded two defensive linemen for Droughns. Droughns responded by becoming the Browns' first 1,000-yard rusher (1,232) in 20 years.
As well as he played, Droughns scored only two touchdowns despite getting 348 touches from scrimmage. The Browns are hopeful the addition of Harrison, a short but quick change-of-pace back, will make them more effective in the red zone.
"We've been trying to get a running back," Savage said. "We were real fortunate to get Jerome. He rushed for 1,900 yards, the second most in the country. He just had a really strong two years at Washington State. We think he could be a real strong challenger at that changeup back for Reuben."
Suggs would be the leading candidate for the job of third-down back if not for Harrison. Trading Suggs would likely benefit his new team more than it would the Browns since his injury history -- 23 missed games in three seasons -- means the Browns could not expect much in return.
Rather than trade Suggs or even Green now, the Browns are expected to take both to training camp because their trade value could rise if an injury forces a team to go looking for another running back. Last summer the Browns swapped Melvin Fowler to the Vikings for tackle Nat Dorsey because Minnesota needed a center. It was not a blockbuster deal, but the Browns were satisfied because Fowler was not in their plans.