By Mary Kay Cabot
Browns running back Peyton Hillis, who had a tumultuous 2011 season, is unlikely to be franchised by the Browns.
But they’ll still try to re-sign him before he hits the open market March 13 at 4 p.m.
Now that the Browns have signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year, $42.5 million deal, they can use the franchise tag on someone else. It’s doubtful the Browns will use it at all, but if they do, they’d be more likely to use it on kicker Phil Dawson than Hillis.
The franchise salary for Dawson in 2011 will be about $3.8 million, and for Hillis, it would be about $7.7 million to $8 million.
Teams must franchise players by March 5. If the Browns don’t use their tag, they can continue to negotiate with all their free agents before they hit the market on March 13.
The Browns are interested in re-signing Hillis after he finished the 2011 strong. But the two sides were far apart when talks broke off midseason.
The Browns will also try to re-sign Dawson, as well as many of their other free agents, including Marcus Benard, Mike Adams and Dimitri Patterson.
Dawson said at the end of last season that he wasn’t sure he’d be back in Cleveland for a 14th season, but that he intended to continue playing.
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