CLEVELAND (AP) - Reuben Droughns, Cleveland's only 1,000-yard rusher since 1985, was traded Friday to the New York Giants, who need a feature running back following Tiki Barber's retirement.
In return for Droughns, who became expendable after the Browns signed free agent Jamal Lewis to a one-year, $3.5 million contract on Wednesday, the Giants sent Cleveland wide receiver Tim Carter.
As part of a three-year, $12 million contract extension he signed last year, Droughns was due a $1.75 million roster bonus this month. But instead of paying him or releasing the 28-year-old and getting nothing in return, the Browns acquired Carter, a part-time starter who had 22 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns last season.
The Browns also terminated the contract of cornerback Daylon McCutcheon, one of only two players left from their 1999 expansion team. McCutcheon missed all of last season following microfracture surgery on his knee.
In his first season with Cleveland in 2005, Droughns rushed for 1,232 yards, becoming the first Browns back to eclipse 1,000 yards since Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner did it in 1985. But slowed by injuries and personal problems, Droughns was a big disappointment last season, gaining just 758 yards.
He was arrested but later acquitted on drunken driving charges and had a domestic violence case against him dropped by prosecutors in Denver citing a lack of evidence.
Droughns missed two games with injuries and had only two 100-yard games in 2006. He was running behind an injury-ravaged offensive line that couldn't regroup after losing center LeCharles Bentley to a season-ending knee injury.
The Giants are hoping to get the '05 Droughns, who will likely compete with bruising third-year back Brandon Jacobs to fill Barber's vacant spot. It's also possible the Giants could rotate them, using a similar two-back system to the one employed by Super Bowl champion Indianapolis.
"Reuben rushed for 1,200 yards in '04 and '05 and 750 last year," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "We think he gives us a nice veteran presence and compliments Brandon Jacobs and the rest of our running back group nicely."
Droughns also has played fullback, his position in Denver for two years before his breakout season in 2004 when he gained 1,240 yards and scored a career-high six touchdowns.
The Browns were last in the league in rushing last season, and appear ready to let the 27-year-old Lewis, who gained an NFL single-game record 295 yards against them in 2003, be their primary back.
But the addition of Lewis doesn't mean they won't pick Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson with the No. 3 overall selection in next month's draft.
Also, the Browns have signed Bengals defensive tackle Shaun Smith to a four-year offer sheet. The Bengals have seven days to match the deal or they'll lose the restricted free agent, who would follow offensive tackle Eric Steinbach to Cleveland.
The Browns signed Steinbach to a seven-year, $49.5 million free agent deal last week