Lewis, the franchise's all-time leading rusher, broke away from the Ravens and signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the rival Cleveland Browns on Wednesday. If he plays well, Lewis' salary could be boosted to $5 million.
"We are pleased to add Jamal Lewis to our team," Browns general manager Phil Savage said in a statement. "He is a proven
NFL back who brings a toughness and demeanor to the game that his teammates and our fans will appreciate."
The Ravens released Lewis to clear salary cap room. Both sides kept in touch with the hopes of reuniting. But Lewis sensed his job might not be there. The Ravens have been interested in acquiring Bills halfback Willis McGahee in a trade.
Lewis, 27, decided not to wait and took Cleveland's offer. The Ravens offered Lewis a deal in the $2 million range. He rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003 but has struggled during the past three years. Last year, he played the entire season with a bone spur problem. He recently had surgery to remove the spurs.
The 5-foot-11, 245-pound back is one of the league's most powerful runners. He was the Ravens' first-round draft choice in 2000.
Lewis, 27, spent the 2005 offseason serving time in prison after a guilty plea to using a cell phone to set up a drug buy.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.