<i> Associated Press</i>

Running back Leonard Russell, released by the New England Patriots in a contract dispute, agreed to a contract with the Denver Broncos.

Russell was in attendance Friday night at the Broncos’ exhibition game against the 49ers at San Francisco. He strengthens a backfield that already includes Rod Bernstine, Glyn Milburn and Robert Delpino.

New England’s first-round selection out of Arizona State in 1991, Russell gained 2,437 yards in three seasons with the Patriots. He had 1,088 yards on 300 carries last year.

Nose tackle Greg Kragen turned down an offer to return to the Broncos, saying he was willing to take less money but was uncomfortable as a backup.


The Broncos waived Kragen on April 22 after he rejected a 75% reduction in his $1-million contract for 1994. The team this week offered Kragen, 32, the NFL’s minimum salary of $162,000.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable accepting the offer,” said Kragen, who played nine years for Denver. “It was a tough decision for me.

“At first, I reacted emotionally. Yeah, I still want to play football, and yeah, I’d love to do it in Denver. In a football sense, it wasn’t a lot of money. But money wasn’t the only issue.

“I’d heard where they would use me in a part-time role. I didn’t want to come back because it meant a lot to the organization. I wanted to come back to play football.”