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im no expert but had a similar problem with an old craftsman mower. the belt keeper which is an L shaped piece of hardware located at the back of the deck next to the idler pulley spindal. Also could be the deck is cockeyed and needs to be leveled or the wrong v-belt.
did you try depressing the clutch to disengage everything regardless of being in neutral? and it sounds like a pulley bearing went bad.try to spin the pulley with your hand and see if it moves.take the belt off to the mower deck and that should keep them from turning when you go to start it.
The mower engages by an electronic clutch. If it doesn't squeal/smoke/start the mower deck when you try to engage the mower, then the electronic clutch is faulty (you may have sent shrapnel into the clutch), or the belt is cut or damaged enough not to drive the deck. If this problem is indeed associated with the mowing metal problem then you need to visually check under the engine - that's where the electronic clutch that drives the mowerdeck is located. You'll notice that there is a drive belt that goes from the engine to the mowerdeck. That's your drive belt. You should loosen the belt and check the mower deck to see if you can rotate the drive pulley and in turn this rotates the blades (of course you do this with the engine off). That would determine if it's the deck or the clutch that has issues. Your instruction manual will show you how to loosen the belt then try to spin the mower deck drive pulley. If it spins by hand then look back toward the clutch. If the deck doesn't rotate then it needs to be removed so you can flip it belly up to see what's hindering the movement. These decks clog easily, but if clogged when you try to engage the mower deck it will squeal. They're easy to remove (if you have some kind of overhead lift - if not they can be a pain). Good luck
On most riding mowers flipping the handle to engage the blade causes an idler pulley to engage the drive belt, which takes up the slack in the belt and pulls it against the drive pulleys. A few odd-balls have an electric clutch to engage the blades.
Usually, that's an indication the the seat switch is not working. It's like getting off the seat without locking down the parking brake or getting off the seat with the baldes engaged, same result...engine dies.
Sorry I should have posted this as a solution.
You might want to check the friction wheel to see if it is either worn down and needs adjusting or if it needs replacing.It could very well be just an adjusting. The friction wheel is located inside the panel under the engine. When looking inside the panel and you pull on the handle to engage the wheels you will see the round disc pull towards the friction wheel if it doesn't pull in tight enough you will have problems.Also check the belt and the idler pulley for the drive make sure the idler pulley moves easy and that it puts enough tension on the belt.