During his one season playing in an offense orchestrated by Brian Daboll, Peyton Hillis played like one of the NFL’s premier running backs.
The Chiefs are hoping their reunion in Kansas City can bring similar results from Hillis. He became their first strike in free agency this year Wednesday when he agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
The Chiefs were to meet with three other offensive free agents today: Oakland tight end Kevin Boss, San Diego running back Mike Tolbert and Houston tackle Eric Winston.
It’s all part of the Chiefs’ plan to fix their ailing offense. They were next to last in the NFL in scoring last season.
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The 250-pound Hillis is the first piece. The Chiefs were looking for a power back to complement Jamaal Charles and also provide some insurance in case Charles, who missed almost all of last season because of torn knee ligaments, isn’t ready when the season begins.
The Chiefs hired Daboll as their offensive coordinator this winter. Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 61 passes in 2010 while for Cleveland while Daboll was the Browns’ coordinator.
Daboll moved on last season to Miami and Hillis suffered. Bothered by injuries, he played in just 10 games and rushed for 587 yards.
Hillis began his career in 2008 with the Broncos. He was an effective runner as a rookie, rushing for 5.0 yards per carry. But he fell from favor the next season when Denver hired Josh McDaniels as the head coach.
Hillis was traded after the 2009 season to the Browns as part of the deal that sent quarterback Brady Quinn to Denver.
Hillis was scheduled to talk at a news conference Thursday. In the meantime, he sent a message from his Twitter account that read, “Appreciate all my fans in Cleveland for the support given to me in my time there. Can’t wait to get back on the field and go to work in KC.”
The signing of Hillis didn’t stop the planned visit with Tolbert, who shared time with Ryan Mathews as San Diego’s featured back the past two seasons.
The Chiefs also appear determined to find a receiving tight end in addition to Tony Moeaki. They had Seattle’s John Carlson in Kansas City on Wednesday morning but he left abruptly to head to Minneapolis, where he signed with the Vikings.
Carlson grew up and went to high school in Minnesota and apparently was intent on going home.
Boss was released by the Raiders this week. He caught 28 passes and three touchdowns last year, his only season in Oakland. He previously played four seasons for the Giants, catching 119 passes.
The Chiefs have a hole at right tackle, where last year’s starter, Barry Richardson, is an unrestricted free agent. Winston, who started the last six years for the Texans, is capable of immediately stepping in as the starter.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs lost three of their own free agents. Cornerback Brandon Carr, who