Former Broncos and Browns RB Peyton Hillis kicked off the Chiefs 2012 free agent signing class Wednesday night, agreeing to terms on an undisclosed contract.
Hillis’ unlikely rise from seventh-round draft pick to Madden Football cover athlete began by capitalizing on Denver’s depleted backfield situation as a rookie in 2008. He was originally penciled in as the Broncos’ starting fullback, but moved to tailback when a multitude of injuries struck Denver’s backfield.
Thrust into a feature role, Hillis quickly became an inspiration for a struggling offense that saw seven running backs land on injured reserve in 2008.
Boasting a punishing running style and an underdog mentality, Hillis quickly became a fan-favorite when he took over as Denver’s starting running back midway through the 2008 campaign. A 3-0 record in his three starts at tailback didn’t hurt his cause, nor did a 129-yard outing on his first 20-carry effort against the N.Y. Jets.
However, despite Hillis’ popularity, he was traded to Cleveland after new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels called his number just 13 times during the 2009 campaign. The Browns sent Denver two draft picks and QB Brady Quinn in order to acquire Hills.
In Cleveland, Hillis once again began as the team’s starting fullback but injuries to RBs Jerome Harrison and James Davis shifted Hillis back into a feature role. He’d go on to average 4.4 yards per carry as the Browns lead back, tallying his first 1,000-yard season working under current Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Hillis served as Daboll’s workhorse that season, finishing the year with a career-high 270 carries for 1,177 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. No other Browns rusher topped 31 rushing attempts that season. It was the most productive season of Hillis’ career.
With the Chiefs, Hillis fits in more ways than one. His versatility as a fullback and tailback meets team needs with Thomas Jones, Jackie Battle and Le’Ron McClain each hitting free agency earlier this week.
Hillis brings a much different rushing style than
The four-year pro has appeared in 52 games (31 starts) over his career, rushing 512 times for 2,161 yards (4.2. avg.) with 20 TDs. He’s also added 101 receptions for 805 yards (8.0 avg. with three TDs.