The Cleveland Browns have 11 UFA players going into 2012 free agency, with Peyton Hillis and D'Qwell Jackson being the headliners of the group.
Talk all you want about the Madden Curse, but Peyton Hillis didn't have much of a season in 2011 after breaking out spectacularly in 2010. That leaves open the question as he headlines a group of 11 Unrestricted Free Agents for the Cleveland Browns: should Hillis be re-signed?
Peyton in 2010 had a career year after being snapped up by the Browns, Hillis at the time being a Denver Broncos reject under the Josh McDaniels regime. He responded with over 1000 yards, 11 touchdowns and a pretty kickin' rad campaign to get himself onto a Madden cover. In 2011, a contract dispute combined with injury left Hillis down and out as he only started nine games, amassing a far less impressive 587 yards with only three touchdowns.
The question for the Browns when they look at Hillis is going to be if he will respond to a new contract with another 2010 or simply decline again as he did in 2011. There have been whispers of the Browns drafting Alabama running back Trent Richardson with their fourth overall pick, which would essentially keep Hillis either at the backup role or just put him out of the job entirely.
28 year old middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson is the other important UFA for the Browns. Jackson had 158 tackles from the MLB position in 2011, adding in an Interception, a forced fumble and three and a half sacks as well. His presence would be sorely missed in the center if he were to leave so he could arguably be the most important signing of the offseason for the Browns if they made it happen, moreso than the 'will he or won't he' Hillis situation.
Other names on the UFA list include guys like FS Mike Adams, who had three interceptions in 2011 and TE Alex Smith, who had 131 yards and a touchdown. Jackson and Hillis are undoubtedly the headliners of the list of 11, and will certainly provide the most intriguing stories.