Free Agent Focus with Insider insight: RB Peyton Hillis

Jamie Squire

We put free agent running back Peyton Hillis in our sights with the added point of view of writers for two of his former teams to lend extra perspective.

The Raiders need a big bruising back who can also tote the rock the way Michael Bush once did. There aren't a great many guys who fit that bill in the NFL. One such back could be Chiefs free agent running back, Peyton Hillis.

If Hillis were to come to the Raiders, he would reunite with his former college teammate, Darren McFadden so we know that combination can work. Felix Jones was third member of that Arkansas trio, a role Mike Goodson would fill.

It has been a couple seasons since Hillis was relevant in the NFL. He was originally drafted by Denver which means if he were to come to the Raiders, it would be his third stop in the AFC West. After two seasons there, he was sent to Cleveland where he broke out and put up a monster season in 2010 for the Browns. His 1177 yards trumps the best single season numbers by either of his former Arkansas mates, McFadden (1157) and Jones (800).

Despite his next stop in the NFL being his fourth, he is still only 26 which should suggest he has plenty of good years still left in him.

Here is what the writers for last two teams had to say about him:

Joel Thorman of Chiefs blog, Arrowhead Pride:

Peyton Hillis was supposed to be the thunder to Jamaal Charles' lightning but it never quite worked out that way. Hillis was hurt early in the season, an ankle injury, which cost him a month of time. He only had two good games, really. You probably don't even remember Hillis picking up 23 yards on 4 carries against the Raiders last season, do you? Yeah, that was arguably his third best game last season.

He never really found his spot with the Chiefs. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to how he was used. Jamaal Charles is a great talent so it's understandable that the Chiefs would give him the lion's share of the carries but we were expecting Hillis, who had 85 rushing attempts, to be closer to the 2010 version of Thomas Jones, who had 245 carries and nearly 900 yards. It just didn't happen due to Hillis' performance, his injury and other factors ... like the Chiefs being awful and always playing from behind.

Though we haven't heard anything from the team specifically, it appears they will likely let Hillis hit the market.

Hillis will soon be three years removed from his breakout 2010 season. Was that season just a fluke? It's starting to look like it. Maybe I'd give him a shot on a one-year, prove-it contract but certainly nothing more than that.

Chris Pokorny of Browns blog, Dawgs by Nature:

Cleveland fans absolutely loved Peyton Hillis in 2010. He was tough as nails and appeared to be very humble about his sudden rise to stardom. Besides running the ball well, he was an excellent receiver and a good blocking back. For what he lacked in speed, he made up for in getting yards after the catch.

Fans were so passionate about Hillis' success after the season that they made it a mission to vote him on to the cover of Madden 2012. Unfortunately, that kind of triggered the beginning of the end of Cleveland's love for Hillis.

Hillis made it clear that he wanted a new contract, but instead of earning it, he basically quit on the team. One week, he had to sit out because he had the flu. Then, it was a hamstring injury. Sure, things happen, but there were too many rumblings from the media and players in the locker room who indicated that Hillis was basically holding out. His attitude in general irritated players and fans, and the reputation he previously built had been destroyed just like that.

In Hillis' final season in Cleveland, Joe Thomas ripped into him for how he handled himself. Then Hillis fired back and the pissing match didn't look good for Hillis whatsoever.

I still believe that Hillis is a good receiver and blocker, and his physical nature has a place in the NFL. His durability has to be a concern, though. Even in a limited role with Kansas City last year, he was pretty banged up at times.

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