"Really? That's news to me," Shurmur told The Plain Dealer Thursday at the Greater Cleveland Auto Show. "I'm one of the coaches he didn't tell, obviously."
ESPN reported Thursday that Cleveland's bruising (and slightly enigmatic) running back told team sources at the end of the season that he was pondering retirement, and a possible role with the CIA, following a season filled with injuries and reports of locker-room tension.
Shurmur told the newspaper he shared many conversation with Hillis, but never heard about plans to leave football: "We never discussed any of those topics, for sure. Beyond that, I really can't comment. It's somebody saying something, but as far as he and I, we never discussed his retirement."
Hillis is set to hit the open market as a free agent March 13, but Shurmur didn't entirely dismiss the idea of applying the franchise tag on the back who, just two seasons ago, dazzled Browns fans.
"When he was in there, he played good football for us," Shurmur said. "Now the business of sport takes over here and we'll have to see what happens."
Lost in this drama is a Browns offense that suddenly lacks a clear 16-game starter if Hillis bolts (for another team or the mountains of Kashmir). This franchise was whisper-quiet in free agency last season, but amid a sea of other needs across the roster, who will carry the rock in Cleveland?