|Hillis isn't likely a candidate for a franchise tag. (US Presswire)|
When the Browns went out and signed D'Qwell Jackson to a new five-year deal last week, it seemed like a good indication that they'd use their franchise tag elsewhere. Perhaps running back Peyton Hillis would be a target.
But that doesn't appear to be the case. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Browns are "unlikely" to use the tag on Hillis, but may still attempt to re-sign the running back before free agency begins on March 13.
The price for tagging a running back is $7.7 million, all of which is guaranteed, so it shouldn't be shocking that the Browns will avoid using that on Hillis. Not only would that be overpaying for his 2012 production, but it would be giving Hillis too high a number for baseline negotiations going forward.
Hills struggled badly in 2012, after a breakout 2011 season that landed him on the Madden cover. He played in just 10 games last year, ran for just 587 yards and saw his rushing yards per attempt dip nearly a full yard, from 4.4 in 2010 to 3.6 last season. He found the end zone just three times in 2011 after 13 total touchdowns in 2010. And he had reported issues with his contract off the field as well.
A more likely candidate for the Browns tag? Their kicker, Phil Dawson. Cabot writes that it's "doubtful" the Browns use the tag at all. If Dawson, who turned 37 in January, were to get the tag from the Browns, he'd be guaranteed $3.8 million.
While that's not outrageous, there's something about "using a franchise tag on a 37-year-old kicker" that just screams "we won't contend this year."
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