NFL: Browns release RB Jamal Lewis
BEREA, Ohio — Jamal Lewis was released by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, but hasn’t given up hope of playing again in the NFL.
Lewis was let go with one year remaining on his contract. His season ended on Dec. 2 when he was placed on injured reserve with post-concussion symptoms, but he doesn’t want his career to end with an injury.
First, he must be cleared to return.
“If Jamal wants to play and he’s cleared to play, I think he’s got a lot of football he can bring to the table to help an organization,” Lewis’ agent, Mitch Frankel said. “He can be a significant contributor to the right organization. Jerome Bettis and some other guys at the end of their careers took on a different role, and I think Jamal can do that.”
Lewis, 30, said after the Browns’ season finale that he was still suffering from headaches and blurred vision as a result of the concussion, which he sustained in the opener against Minnesota. Frankel said he wasn’t sure if Lewis was still having the problems and Lewis did not address them in a prepared statement, although he did thank Browns fans and owner Randy Lerner.
“I plan to evaluate my future and have not made a final determination on whether I will be playing football next season,” he said.
Lewis tried playing through the symptoms for three months before finally getting examined. He carried 143 times last year for 500 yards and has rushed for 10,067 yards in his career.
Lewis was one of the most outspoken veterans against first-year coach Eric Mangini. He was critical of Mangini’s practice habits and felt the coach was working the players too hard. Halfway through last season, Lewis said he would retire.
Now he wants to join a contender if his body will let him.
“Jamal went to the Browns with the hope he’d be successful and go to the playoffs and beyond,” Frankel said. “At this stage in his career, I think he would want to play for a team that has a chance to compete and get back to the Super Bowl like he did in 2000. That’s not to say Cleveland can’t do that, but it would appear there are other teams out there that, as of today, look a lot stronger.”
Lewis’ release leaves Jerome Harrison as Cleveland’s apparent starter. Harrison rushed for 862 yards last season, but ended with a flurry. He rushed for 561 yards and five touchdowns over the final three games — all wins — as Cleveland closed the season by winning its final four.
“I enjoyed getting to know Jamal and having the opportunity to coach him last season,” Browns coach Eric Mangini said in a statement. “We want to thank him for his contributions to the Cleveland Browns and wish him nothing but the best moving forward. I’m sure he will be successful in whatever he decides to pursue.”