The expansion Browns, who dropped to 0-6 with a loss at Jacksonville last Sunday, traded their sixth-round pick in next year's draft for Abdul-Jabbar.
If the Browns extend Jabbar's contract before the last day of the NFL's 1999 fiscal year an undetermined date in February the Dolphins would also acquire Cleveland's fifth-round pick in the 2001 draft.
"We are excited to have Karim join us," said Dwight Clark, Cleveland's director of football operations. "He is a good young back and will be given the opportunity to contribute."
Abdul-Jabbar, 25, started three of Miami's games this season, rushing for 95 yards and one touchdown in 28 attempts. He also had four receptions for 25 yards.
But he was benched in favor of rookies Cecil Collins and J.J. Johnson and was inactive for Miami's past two games.
"Karim has done a great job for us in the past," Dolphins coach-general manager Jimmy Johnson said. "However, with the emergence of our young running backs, playing with the Browns will be a good situation for him."
Following a season-high 113-yard performance against the Jaguars, Cleveland's rushing offense improved its ranking to 26th in the league. But the Browns' inability to run the ball consistently has allowed defenses to play close to the line of scrimmage and put more pressure on rookie quarterback Tim Couch.
Terry Kirby, primarily a third-down back throughout his career, has been the Browns' featured back, with George Jones and recently acquired Rashaan Salaam as backups.
Kirby has rushed for 300 yards on 85 carries and one TD through six games.
Clark said Browns president Carmen Policy personally handled the negotiations with Johnson, and was able to finalize the trade before Tuesday's deadline.
"He (Carmen) shook off the rust, got on the phone directly with Jimmy Johnson, and closed the deal for us," Clark said.
The Dolphins selected Abdul-Jabbar in the third round of the 1996 draft out of UCLA. He is ranked second to Larry Csonka (53) in Dolphins history with 33 career touchdowns, and his 3,063 yards rushing place him fifth on Miami's career list.
Abdul-Jabbar was expected to be in Cleveland on Wednesday morning for a physical.
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