Monday-morning QB'ing on McGahee

The Baltimore Sun

Whenever the Ravens face Jamal Lewis, it's another showdown with their all-time leading rusher.

It's also another time to debate the Ravens' decision at running back.

In the 2007 offseason, the Ravens failed to re-sign Lewis and traded for Willis McGahee.

Nearly 21 months later, the statistics and the money indicate this was a misstep.

In 22 games with the Cleveland Browns, Lewis has averaged 81.2 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns. In 21 games with the Ravens, McGahee has rushed for 74.1 yards and reached the end zone 10 times.

For what they invested, the Ravens should have gotten more.

The team signed McGahee to a seven-year, $40.12 million contract that included $13.5 million in bonuses. The Ravens also gave away three draft picks to the Buffalo Bills for McGahee, including two third-round picks (one of which was eventually used for quarterback Trent Edwards).

The Browns lured Lewis to Cleveland with a one-year, $2.5 million deal in 2007 (he received a $2 million performance bonus at the end of the season) and retained him with a three-year, $17 million contract.

The Ravens made that commitment to McGahee because they were getting a running back who was two years younger and had less wear and tear on his body.

But McGahee has been the one who is getting beat up these days. Nine weeks into the season, he has dealt with injuries to his knee, eyes, ribs and now ankle.

McGahee has surpassed 64 yards just once this season and has averaged fewer than 3 yards a carry in three of his past four games.

Lewis, meanwhile, has been a model of consistency. After being held to 56 yards by the Ravens, he has gained at least 79 yards in four straight games.

In fairness to the Ravens, it was difficult to predict this resurgence in Lewis.

In his final two seasons with the Ravens, he had not looked like the same running back, failing to average 4.0 yards a carry. But there was hope that he would rebound that next season because he would enter the offseason healthier than he had been in years.

It would be interesting to see whom they would give the ball - and their money - to if they could do it over again.


A look at how Jamal Lewis and Willis McGahee stack up since running for their new teams:

Lewis Category M cGahee

22 Games 21

427 Carries 394

1,788 Rushing yards 1,558

4.2 Rushing yards per attempt 4.0

81.2 Rushing yards per game 74.1

12 Rushing touchdowns 10

42 Receptions 56

355 Receiving yards 335

2 Receiving touchdowns 1

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