Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 2/28/12

Rumors are circulating throughout Berea that the Cleveland Browns have prepared a three-year, incentive-laden offer of for running back Peyton Hillis.

Fresh off of locking up veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, the Browns have apparently set their sites on Hillis who followed up a career season in 2010 with a relative clunker one season later. The Browns, per Cleveland’s 19 Action News/WOIO’s Tony Zarella, have pulled their initial offer off of the table and have provided the back with a deal where he could prove which of the last two seasons was in fact the aberation.

“Its really in his court,” said Zarella in a Tuesday morning interview on 92.3 The Fan.  It was Zarella who reported the initial offer of three years and $16.5 million back in November. The new offer is reported to start around the $10 million mark with very little in guarantees.

Hillis finished the 2011 season strong, recording 211 combined yards against the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, those two weeks comprised more than a third of his season total of 587 yards with three touchdowns. His contractual status was a large part of the 2011 season’s narrative as the player missed multiple games due to illness and injury.

Ealier this month, it was reported that the Browns front office was split on Hillis, some members opting to move on and address running back needs via the NFL Draft. While it is an option, the Browns have essentially dismissed any notion of using the franchise tag on Hillis, a move that would cost the team $7.7 million on a one-year deal.

[Related: The Browns can’t know what they’re doing yet]

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