Recently, someone asked me about the possibility of Peyton Hillis signing with their favorite team. I had to double check Hillis' status before I answered, because I hadn't thought about him in months.
It's not that uncommon for a NFL player to fade into obscurity, and do it rather suddenly. But it's rare for someone to fall into oblivion as quickly as Hillis has.
Hillis worked out for Tampa Bay, according to numerous reports. The Buccaneers probably have the worst backup situation in the league, with 2012 seventh-round pick Michael Smith and 2013 sixth-round pick Mike James battling to back up star Doug Martin. Smith and James have zero combined NFL carries.
UPDATE: The Buccaneers decided to bring in Hillis on a one-year deal:
On the eve of training camp, the Bucs have bolstered their backfield by signing RB Peyton Hillis.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) July 23, 2013
In 2010, Hillis was a NFL celebrity. He rushed for 1,117 yards and 11 touchdowns, and caught 61 passes too. He was a fan favorite who ended up on the cover of "Madden." He was 250 pounds, tough but with good feet, and a bonus in the passing game because of his great hands.
Now he's 27, without any major injury history, and spent months looking for a job.
Running backs come and go quickly, but Hillis' story is surprising. He turned a lot of Browns teammates off in 2011 by his overwhelming desire to land a big contract, which is pretty funny given his current circumstance. He signed a one-year, $3 million deal with Kansas City last year, had just 309 yards and has been out of the NFL consciousness since. Now he gets a chance to resurrect his career.
His reputation probably affected his stock. Respected Browns tackle Joe Thomas unloaded on Hillis last year to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and said his situation with the Browns was "toxic" because he cared more about his contract than helping the Browns win. Hillis gained 101 yards on 15 carries in the second-to-last game last season.
He gets an opportunity now, with Tampa Bay, to show he can still be an effective NFL back. Given how long it took to get this shot, it might be his last chance.
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