Peyton Hillis Signs with Kansas City Chiefs: Deal Analysis, Grade and Reaction

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMarch 15, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 18:  Runningback Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns rushes the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 20-17 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Most will preach that "patience is a virtue," but in the case of free-agent running back Peyton Hillis, that couldn't be further from reality. 

After turning down several contract offers from the Cleveland Browns that likely had multiple years and a mid-range annual salary, Hillis could only muster a one-year deal worth $3 million from the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday as an unrestricted free agent. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the agreement. 

While the contract numbers may not be what Hillis was expecting six months ago, the fit in Kansas City makes some sense now for the bruising running back.

For starters, a familiar face in the Chiefs' coaching booth should help his transition.   

Brian Daboll, the Chiefs' current offensive coordinator, was the Browns' play-caller in 2009 and '10 when Hillis broke on to the NFL scene. In 2010, Daboll's last season in Cleveland, Hillis ran for 1,177 yards and 11 scores.

With Hillis in his backfield, along with dynamic-but-still-recovering running back Jamaal Charles, Daboll will likely turn the Chiefs back into the run-heavy offense it was when Kansas City won 10 games and the AFC West in 2010.  

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If Hillis can be as effective as Thomas Jones was in a complementary role back in '10, the Chiefs offense could recover next season. At the very least, Hillis will allow the Chiefs to ease Charles (ACL surgery) back into the fold and give the team a more respected short-yardage option.

The signing may also have a small impact on the 2012 NFL draft.

Adding Hillis to Kansas City all but eliminates another potential suitor from the race for Alabama running back Trent Richardson, who many have mocked to the Chiefs over the last several months. Unless there's something we don't know about Charles' recovery, Kansas City won't be spending a first-round pick on a running back. 

In the end, the Chiefs got a running back who is arguably the most physical in the NFL when healthy and at a cheap price. Hillis will also be playing in 2012 for another big bite at the free-agent apple next offseason, so there's a chance he could have a big season even in a backup role.

If the Chiefs can make Hillis into a bigger, more effective version of Thomas Jones, this move will look brilliant.

Grade: B+  


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