BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Running back Dominic Rhodes agreed to a two-year contact with the Buffalo Bills, giving them an established starter while Marshawn Lynch opens the 2009 season serving a three-game suspension.
Rhodes is an eight-year NFL veteran who became a free agent this offseason after spending 2008 with the Indianapolis Colts. The deal was announced Saturday and comes after Rhodes visited the Bills this past week.
The Bills needed to bolster their depth at running back after the NFL last week suspended Lynch without pay for violating its personal-conduct policy. Lynch has until next week to appeal.
Rhodes is the latest addition to a revamped offense that will now feature wide receiver Terrell Owens. Buffalo also is retooling its offensive line after trading Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters to the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday and releasing left guard Derrick Dockery in February.
The Bills are coming off three consecutive 7-9 seasons and haven't made the playoffs in nine years -- the longest drought in franchise history.
Rhodes spent the 2007 season with the Oakland Raiders and returned to the Colts last season, sharing starting duties with Joseph Addai. In 15 games, Rhodes had 538 rushing yards, including a team-leading six touchdowns rushing. He added 302 yards and three touchdowns receiving.
Rhodes broke into the NFL in 2001, when he was signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent out of Midwestern State. He enjoyed his best statistical season as a rookie, setting career bests with 1,104 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Rhodes also played a key role in helping Indianapolis win Super Bowl XLI.
Rhodes' versatility as a rusher and receiver fits the Bills' offensive philosophy under coordinator Turk Schonert. Lynch and Jackson combined for 84 catches for 617 yards and one touchdown last season.
Meanwhile, third-year backup Fred Jackson is unhappy over contract talks. The Bills control Jackson's rights after offering him a $460,000 tender. Jackson, however, has yet to accept it while attempting to negotiate a long-term deal.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press