Broncos bolster backfield, sign veteran RBs Jordan and Arrington

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- New Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels keeps adding former New England Patriots to his roster in Denver.

This time, the Broncos signed free-agent running back LaMont Jordan on Wednesday to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million. Denver also signed tailback/kick returner J.J. Arrington from the Arizona Cardinals, bringing to three the number of running backs the team has signed in free agency. The Broncos signed former Philadelphia Eagles backup Correll Buckhalter last week.

Jordan is a ninth-year pro who spent last season in New England after stints with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, who drafted him in the second round in 2001 from the University of Maryland.

McDaniels, who replaced Mike Shanahan this year as the Broncos' coach after serving as the Patriots' offensive coordinator, also has lured long-snapper Lonie Paxton and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney from New England to Denver. McDaniels also had talks with the Patriots about quarterback Matt Cassel before he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last season, Jordan rushed 80 times for 363 yards and four touchdowns. He has rushed for 3,648 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career. He also has 1,301 receiving yards with three TDs.

The Broncos signed Arrington to a four-year deal worth about $10 million, with more than $2 million in guarantees. The sides had come close to a deal last week but haggled over guaranteed money before ironing out their differences Wednesday.

Arrington and Jordan are the second and third veteran running backs the Broncos' new regime have signed in free agency.

The Broncos had seven running backs end up on injured reserve last season. Ryan Torain (knee) and fellow second-year pro Peyton Hillis (hamstring), a converted fullback, are expected to push Buckhalter for the starting job.

McDaniels looks like he'll adopt New England's philosophy of not having any running back carry too much of the load by himself, so a stable of versatile backs is important to his intricate offense.

Arrington had 187 rushing yards, 255 receiving yards and 923 kickoff-return yards last season for the NFC champion Cardinals, and he made a handful of key plays in Arizona's 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

Arrington has spent all four of his NFL seasons in Arizona, where he averaged a career-best 25.6 yards on kickoff returns last year.

"J.J. is looking to do a little more than he did in Arizona, to take it up a notch," said his agent, J.R. Rickert. "He's not a 20-carry-a-game back, but he's explosive, and I think in this type of offense that they're putting together in Denver that he can excel both as a ball carrier and as a pass-catcher.

"When the outcome of the Super Bowl was hanging in the balance, J.J. was in the Cardinals' backfield the whole fourth quarter."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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