While the Cleveland Browns and representatives for star running back Peyton Hillis are discussing a long-term contract, no deal is immenent for the Madden NFL 12 cover guy, league sources told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora this week.
When contacted by The Plain Dealer on Tuesday, general manager Tom Heckert would not comment, but the Browns have more than $18 million in salary cap room, eighth-most in the league, and they recently gave left tackle Joe Thomas a seven-year contract extension worth $84 million.
Hillis is in the last year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to earn the NFL four-year minimum of $555,000. Drafted in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos in 2008, he came to Cleveland as a throw-in to the 2010 trade that sent quarterback Brady Quinn to Denver.
Pegged as a fullback in his first Browns camp, Hillis instead had a breakout season in 2010. He rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns, and added 61 catches for two TDs. Moreover, his bruising, straight-ahead running style and blue-collar personality captured fans' hearts and gave the Browns a much-needed identity.
The Plain Dealer reported that Hillis recently changed agents for the second time in five months.
"Most definitely. I think this team, this city, even the colors, represent who I am. As an individual, as a person and as a player," Hillis said Tuesday. "So I would love to be here as long the Browns want me here.
"Whenever's my time, whenever the Browns feel like they want to take care of me, they will."