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Browns “trying like crazy” to lock up Peyton Hillis

Peyton Hillis

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis runs the ball during practice at the NFL football team’s training camp in Berea, Ohio Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)


Peyton Hillis has taken a quiet approach to contract talks with the Browns, but team president Mike Holmgren is taking a different tack.

Holmgren was on ESPN Radio’s The Mike and Mike Show Friday morning and made it clear, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, that he wants to get a deal done with the running back sooner rather than later.

“We’re trying like crazy to wrap him up for a long time,’' Holmgren said. “He’s something, isn’t he?

Hillis is in the final year of his rookie contract and hired a new agent this offseason in advance of the coming contract talks. Reports popped up last week that the two sides have started to talk with Hillis making it clear that he wanted to remain with the Browns for the long haul. He also said that he wasn’t in any particular hurry to get the deal done, although that might not wind up mattering all that much if Holmgren and the Browns keep contract talks percolating.

Hillis exploded in 2010 after two largely uneventful seasons with the Broncos before he was included in the Brady Quinn trade. His 1,177 rushing yards and 477 receiving yards accounted for 36 percent of the Browns’ total yards on offense last season, a percentage that will likely go down if Montario Hardesty makes good on his promise after losing his rookie season to injury and Pat Shurmur’s offense gives the Browns more life in the passing game.

Even if he becomes a slightly smaller cog in the machine, a long-term deal for Hillis makes sense for the Browns. They’ve got a ton of cap room and need to get as many talented players in the fold as possible to keep moving toward a return to the playoffs.