Posted by Ryan Wilson
Last week, the Browns signed left tackle Joe Thomas to a seven-year, $84 million extension. And in Colt McCoy, they appear to have finally settled on their quarterback of the future. It's all part of the rebuilding process overseen by team president Mike Holmgren and implemented by new coach Pat Shurmur. Cleveland also took Greg Little in the second round of the April draft to bolster the wide receiver position. And in one season, Peyton Hillis, the guy the Browns got in the trade for Brady Quinn, went from an afterthought in Denver to one of the Browns' best players.
Hillis was so good, in fact, that he ended up on the cover of Madden 12. After spending the first two years with the Broncos where he managed 397 yards on 81 carries, Hillis ran for 1,117 yards on 270 carries (4.4 YPC, 11 TDs) and added 477 receiving yards (and 2 TDs) in 2011.
In addition to the Madden love, the Browns are now talking about extending his contract.
Given Hillis' importance to the Browns' offense, and that McCoy could use all the weapons he can get, the extension makes a lot of sense. Yes, page/TEN">Titans shouldn't pay Johnson">we're not big fans of overpaying for running backs because you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, but we can't imagine that Hillis will be asking for Chris Johnson money. (Granted, it's still not clear what constitutes "Chris Johnson money," but it's more than what the NFL's highest-paid back currently makes.)
Still, the Browns blog, Dawgpound Daily, asks an important question: Would signing Hillis to a long-term deal be a good idea?
With just one solid season under his belt … there is no guarantee that he will come close to those numbers again or, worse, stay healthy. Hillis’ running style is not kind to his body, and it was evident in 2010, as he battled injuries for much of the second half of the season.If the idea is to surround McCoy with playmakers then keeping Hillis is a no-brainer. But questions about his durability are certainly relevant; it's not like Hillis tiptoes out of bounds whenever he gets the chance and shies away from contact. He's a fullback by nature and seems to enjoy steamrolling defenders. That takes a toll.
Most likely, the Browns will give Hillis a fair amount of guaranteed money and let him earn the rest of the contract. Luckily, the team is flush with cash to spend (they have more than $18 million in salary cap room) and can afford to take a chance on Hillis.
The real reason we wanted to write about Hillis is to show this video. Because, really, there's nothing quite so awesome as Peyton Hillis vs. Chuck Norris.
For now, though, he's just happy to be playing football. "When you are playing a game, that’s when you know you are truly blessed," Hillis told Forbes.com recently. "I’m looking forward to another big season with the Browns to show fans how much we appreciate them."
And speaking of the fans, he has nothing but good things to say about those who voted him onto the Madden 12 cover. "This has been a humbling experience and I want to thank all the fans in Cleveland and throughout the country that got behind me and voted each and every week."
Enjoy it, Peyton. Because it's only a matter of time before fans start making fantasy demands and you just snap.
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