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Report: Browns won’t use franchise tag on Hillis

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Now that the Browns have worked out a new contract with linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, they won’t have to use the franchise tag to keep him on the team.

But that doesn’t mean the Browns will use the franchise tag on someone else.

The two prime candidates are running back Peyton Hillis and kicker Phil Dawson, recipient of the team’s tag in 2011.  According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, however, the Browns remain disinclined to use the tag on Hillis.

Though Hillis finally got his head pointed in the right direction late in the season, his unexpected 1,177-yard performance in 2010 coupled with his appearance on the cover of the Madden game caused him to have an overly high opinion of his value.  And when he didn’t get the kind of contract he thought he should get from the Browns, he started behaving a bit bizarrely.  Eventually, Hillis acquired some humility, and he put together strong performances against the Cardinals and Ravens in Weeks 15 and 16.

With the franchise tender for running backs expected to be at $7.7 million for 2012, applying the tag to Hillis would potentially rekindle his ego and dust off those moon-shot monetary demands.  And so the Browns will allow him to hit the open market.  Once he sees what his value is (and via the pre-free agency negotiations that inevitably occur, he possibly already has), Hillis could be in position to work out a long-term deal that would have an annual value far less than $7.7 million.

The risk for the Browns is that someone else could offer Hillis more than the Browns will pay.  As Peter King explained during one of the various editions of Football Night in America last season, former Browns coach Eric Mangini will tell anyone who asks that Hillis is a great kid and a great player and would be a great addition to the team.

The Browns nevertheless should maintain an attitude of nonchalance.  Hillis plays the most fungible position in football that doesn’t involve long-snapping, kicking, holding for kicks, or punting.  The Browns will find someone else who can move the chains and compile yards and score touchdowns and strike a chord with the fan base and infatuate fantasy owners and maybe even end up on the cover of Madden.

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46 Responses to “Report: Browns won’t use franchise tag on Hillis”
  1. h3min1230 says: Feb 28, 2012 7:26 AM

    If he’s willing to play for $3-$4 mil a year (which is what he’s worth) then he might be a nice pick up for a team like the Chiefs who might lose Jackie Battle to free agency, and could use a power back to compliment Charles.

  2. mataug says: Feb 28, 2012 7:29 AM

    former Browns coach Eric Mangini will tell anyone who asks that Hillis is a great kid and a great player and would be a great addition to the team

    Who is going to ask Mangini for an opinion ?

  3. 13fitzj says: Feb 28, 2012 7:31 AM

    Nor should they

  4. groundpepper1016 says: Feb 28, 2012 7:39 AM

    Over rated!!

  5. bangitfootball says: Feb 28, 2012 7:41 AM

    Peyton Hillis let his oversized ego and incompetent management ruin what should have been a season to build on instead of making demands all year.

  6. FinFan68 says: Feb 28, 2012 7:44 AM

    No way is he worth franchise tag money. He had a good year and wanted a payday. He didn’t get it and malingered and whined for most of the season. He is either a head case or has character issues. Either way I wouldn’t trust the guy

  7. wingz101 says: Feb 28, 2012 7:45 AM

    No kidding. One ‘unexpected year’ followed by a total flop until the last two games of the year when he sniffed his career going into the crapper. Yeah a real candidate for the franchise tag …

  8. The Buffer Zone says: Feb 28, 2012 7:51 AM

    Some team is going to get Peyton Hillis for fairly cheap and get a very good running back.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if he goes to another AFC North Team (who all need at least a number 2 RB)? A Ray Rice/PeytOn Hillis combo would be deadly.

    A divorce seems probable with the stunts Hillis pulled last season, but he showed at the end of the season that his skills haven’t diminished.

    One of the most intriguing RB FAs out there. It’ll be fun to see where he lands.

  9. chrisritch93 says: Feb 28, 2012 7:58 AM

    If anyone has ” an overly high opinion of his value ”
    Its you !!!

  10. kcc123 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:06 AM

    That’s not even close to what Mary Kay wrote in the Plain Dealer. They are trying to re-sign him now that Jackson’s deal is done .

  11. ffsniper says: Feb 28, 2012 8:09 AM

    “Browns won’t use franchise tag on Hillis”

    Yeah, you think?

  12. canetic says: Feb 28, 2012 8:11 AM

    He seems like the perfect guy to use the franchise tag on. Coming off a bad year, sign him to a one-year deal and see what he can do. $7.7 mil is not that big an investment for a football team. The guy can be a powerful back when he is hitting on all cylinders.

  13. lionsmark09 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:13 AM

    Please come to Detroit! He could be in the playoffs.

  14. bettis3636 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:15 AM

    ATTENTION: Pittsburgh would welcome this man with open arms!! For the right price of course!!.. He isnt the 1st player to make excuses to not wanna play for the Browns… just come to Pitt and lets chase #7…!!

  15. mgscott says: Feb 28, 2012 8:21 AM

    Time to get the kicker locked up for another year! Awesome Dawson!

  16. wryly1 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:24 AM

    Hillis hasn’t been 100% since Nov. 2010. Can’t give a franchise tag or big FA contract to a guy who doesn’t have his health – and head screwed on right – at the same time. Michael Bush is probably the most versatile power back truly available in free agency.

  17. emmac13 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:25 AM

    Good. After reading into this more. Hillis would be way over payed with the tag. Best to use the tag on Phil Dawson.

  18. badrad1532 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:25 AM

    Absolutly, cant give him 7.7 mil for one year of uncertainty if you wont give him 5 mil per for 3-4 yrs….RUNNING BACKS ARE A DIME A DOZEN…..

    Chris ombygyona or whatever was a practice squad RB player and did decent, I stress decent….

  19. steeelfann says: Feb 28, 2012 8:26 AM

    We gotta come up with an alternative word to fungible.

    I can see Hillis being a Steeler in any other year, but with the Wallace thing going on, nah.

  20. cbusbrownie says: Feb 28, 2012 8:26 AM

    Common sense prevails here. Keep building, a day at a time. After the dust settles, a new day for Cleveland Browns football is soon upon us!

  21. BrownsTown says: Feb 28, 2012 8:31 AM

    Too bad for the Browns and Hillis but it is the right move for now. No way he is worth AP type money.

  22. stiffmcgriff says: Feb 28, 2012 8:31 AM

    The Browns will find someone else who can move the chains and compile yards and score touchdowns and strike a chord with the fan base and infatuate fantasy owners and maybe even end up on the cover of Madden.

    So what you’re saying is, the Browns will draft Trent Richardson, micro-fracture surgery and all?

  23. katrinasafterbirth says: Feb 28, 2012 8:38 AM

    Shocker! You mean an NFL team is not going to franchise a tall slow white RB that is always injured??

    What’s next, no NFL team will want to sign an overweight out-of-shape black QB from Syracuse?

  24. lbcoach34 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:39 AM

    buy low, sell high – good football business by CLE

  25. chc4 says: Feb 28, 2012 8:49 AM

    Nor should they.

  26. thenaturalmevs says: Feb 28, 2012 9:18 AM

    And who is Eric Mangini to be judging character? That guy belongs in a nuthouse himself.

  27. bigjdve says: Feb 28, 2012 9:19 AM

    He is worth letting go if he thinks that he should get franchise type money. They can get Richardson and be better off for less. And without the mental baggage

  28. dpbrew says: Feb 28, 2012 9:23 AM

    Once again the media stirring up controversy where there isn’t
    Any. “now that the Jackson deal is done” they are working out a deal with Hillis right now so they don’t have to “use ” the franchise tag. This team and the Bengals are on the rise and the two meatheads, i.e. Pitt and Balt are a “bit” worried. One team has a busted up QB whose best yrs are behind him the other team has a 50 yr old HOF MLB who must face that his team can’t win the “big” game just like the old Browns. Hillis will sign w Browns b4 weeks end. Face it ravens and steelers fans, hard times are ahead!

  29. erikinhell says: Feb 28, 2012 9:32 AM

    He’s worth about $3-4 mil over a 3 year contract. I think the most he’ll get from the Browns is $4.5 on a 4 year contract.

  30. cardmagnet says: Feb 28, 2012 9:32 AM

    Well duh, you don’t franchise a guy who performed like a backup and caused more off field issues than he is worth. Payhim Hilli$ turned out to be a joke.

  31. blawrence95 says: Feb 28, 2012 9:42 AM

    Bucs should just pick him up. I think Blount and Hillis might be the power running game Schiano is looking for…

  32. glazerh8er says: Feb 28, 2012 9:47 AM

    Bucs- please pick this player up. That is all.

  33. kevinb73 says: Feb 28, 2012 9:48 AM

    The Bucs could use a power back like that in the backfield with Blount. We could bring back the Alstott days in Tampa Bay!

    Go Bucs!

  34. zerodime says: Feb 28, 2012 9:54 AM

    Sign Hillis to a performance based contract. If he thinks he deserves Peterson money, pay him if he performs like him. If he gets injured again or sucks then he is making around $2 mil per year.

  35. erikinhell says: Feb 28, 2012 10:01 AM

    I should clarify: I meant $3-4 million a year over 3-4 years. I’d backload his contract with injury protection, as I think Hillis only has 2-3 years left.

  36. joemammy says: Feb 28, 2012 10:30 AM

    Minimal salary on the front end…big incentives on the back end. If Hillis has a monster year (again), the Browns and Peyton will benefit.

    If he falls on his face (again), he can always fetch balls for Dawson.

  37. citiciti says: Feb 28, 2012 10:31 AM

    He will sign with the Browns.

  38. godcanfirealdavis says: Feb 28, 2012 10:35 AM


  39. daysend564 says: Feb 28, 2012 10:38 AM

    The way he played/acted last season, he deserves only the league minimum. Let him walk…

  40. cannonballdookie says: Feb 28, 2012 10:58 AM

    He’ll find work somewhere but Cleveland needs to move on after last season’s debacle. It’s a shame, but he let the hype get to his head and he’s only a RB so they can replace him.

  41. bensstinkyfingers says: Feb 28, 2012 11:28 AM

    The Browns have many holes to fill, just to let him walk. Hillis has stated he wants to stay in Cleveland, and the majority of the fanbase wants him here. Last year was a fluke, the madden thing, the injurys, the contract year, he will bounce back this year and put up big numbers. The Browns need to get him back on the roster he is a good fit here. Plus I dont want to have to buy another Browns jersey this year, someone needs to invent a jersey that you can buy replacement velcro numbers.

  42. td40 says: Feb 28, 2012 11:32 AM

    “Though Hillis finally got his head pointed in the right direction late in the season, his unexpected 1,177-yard performance in 2010 coupled with his appearance on the cover of the Madden game caused *HIS AGENT* to have an overly high opinion of Hillis’s value.”

    There. Fixed it for you, PFT. And by the way, people get some really weird ideas from God knows where. “katrinasafterbirth” calls him “a tall slow white RB that is always injured.” Let’s see. In 2008, he played in 12 games for the Broncos as a backup. Not injured. In 2009, he played in 14 games as a backup- not injured. In 2010 he played in all 16 games for the Browns. Not injured. In 2011, he ended up missing 6 games, but it’s pretty well known among real Browns fans that Hillis’s agent may have been recommending that he milk the injury in a dumb attempt to get more money. That means Hillis’s agent is an idiot- not that Hillis was really too injured to play the whole time. So, out of 58 games he was given an opportunity to play in, he played in 52 of them. Yep, sounds like he’s “always injured.”

    Good grief. You gotta love it when people just write something patently false, hoping like hell no one will do the research and call them out on it.

  43. phinfan says: Feb 28, 2012 11:40 AM

    I could see this dude going to two different teams, one: Denver will get him back or two: he will go to Kansas City…

    I know KC has two exceptional backs, however they don’t have a inside pounding machine… and the OC (Daboll) will push hard for this guy because of his familiarity!

  44. Deb says: Feb 28, 2012 1:18 PM

    It’s a team sport. Hillis forgot that. He’s not worth the headaches he caused the Browns and certainly doesn’t deserve a franchise tag.

  45. Chris Henry's Wild Ride says: Feb 28, 2012 6:00 PM

    I’ve heard he’s already agreed verbally to a deal and they are working out minor details. Supposedly 3 years for 10 mil plus incentives. Look for an official announcement very soon.

  46. texline1 says: Feb 29, 2012 8:38 AM

    ” The Browns will find someone else who can move the chains and compile yards and score touchdowns and strike a chord with the fan base and infatuate fantasy owners and maybe even end up on the cover of Madden.”
    Well, so far, since 99, they have had 3 backs go over 1000 yards, Hillis being one of them, so finding someone who moves the chains and NEVER gets tackled moving backward may be harder than you think. You are talking like this is a winning team with plenty of options. Wrong. They can ill afford to take yet another chance and bet on a come.

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