Given the situation we are currently in where Peyton Hillis isn’t healthy and can’t get on the field, I have figured out the best way to handle it for everyone. LeCharles Bentley “reported” that Peyton Hillis wanted $10 million in guaranteed money in his contract. Tony Zarella has stated the Browns were willing to guarantee $3 million on a three year deal that would have paid him $4 million, $4.5 million and $5 million. Zarella also reported that Hillis and his management turned that deal down. Hillis has been a distraction, to say the least. I don’t think it has probably affected any of the outcomes on Sundays other than Hillis not contributing on the field. By which I mean that I don’t think Colt McCoy is playing any worse because of the off-field stuff. On-field the Browns obviously miss the production that Hillis provided last season. Not that anyone asked me, but here’s what I would do.
I would split the difference, get him signed up to an incentive-laden three year extension and I would put him on the I.R. and end his season. Guarantee him more money than the proposed $3 million. Make him earn more of that proposed salary with incentives based on playing time and further incentives based on production. Then I would tell him that everyone needs a mulligan on this year. Take a break. Get healthy. Don’t try to get on the field this year in some noble effort to “earn your money” because with a nagging injury like a hamstring it is a fool’s errand and Hillis is probably his own worst enemy.
They say that the best deals are the ones where everyone wins. In Hillis’ case he gets some more guaranteed money without the boatload he was originally seeking. In the Browns’ case, they show some goodwill to a guy who in one single season out-performed his deal. It saves them from having to concentrate on the running back situation coming into next year. The Browns will again return Brandon Jackson, Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty, which is something of a risk, but I honestly don’t think it is any higher risk than any other crew of running backs. (Well, maybe Hardesty, but I digress.)
The chances of this happening are slim to none and maybe there are lots of good reasons why the Browns and Hillis wouldn’t do something like this. All I know is that I think Peyton Hillis can be a valuable contributor to the team. Maybe he won’t contribute to the levels of a year ago, but I think he can still be a legit contributor.
I know the chances of him doing much this year are slim. If he is unable to do much on the field this year and he gets to free agency and finds suitors, he isn’t going to be very likely to give the Browns last look on his deal with the way things have played out. My prediction is that if he hits free agency he could wind up reuniting with Mike Shanahan with a swift pen stroke in Dan Snyder’s checkbook with the Redskins.
And that would be a shame. It would be a shame for the Browns and Browns fans. Regardless of what transpired with this year’s ugliness as the Browns engaged in a year of transition, it is quite obvious that the better story would be for Peyton Hillis to come back, contribute and help the Browns win games in the future.
(No. I still don’t believe in the Madden Curse.)