In his season-ending ending press conference Tuesday, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur said he met with RB Peyton Hillis on Monday but declined to say whether the team had made a decision on his future.
"I'll tell you what, Peyton and I had a great conversation yesterday," Shurmur said of Hillis, who will be an unrestricted free agent. "He's an all-star player who was dealing with injury in the middle part of the year and then came back, and I really liked what he did at the end of the season."
Shurmur also said that the Browns would be open to adding a running back in the draft.
"I think we're going to try to look at all options at running back," he said. "... We're going to try to get as good as we can get at all positions. I want to see a Montario Hardesty that's healthy. I think he's hopefully finally getting back. This will be one of the first offseasons he hasn't been dealing with an injury. That will really help him develop."
Shurmur has a point on injuries to the RB corps. Hardesty was in his first season back from an ACL tear in 2011, and he was bothered by a calf injury in the second half of the season. Hillis battled hamstring and hip injuries. Both backs missed a half-dozen games apiece. Add in ex-Packers RB Brandon Jackson's season-long absence with a turf-toe injury, and the Browns never really had the RB corps they envisioned when they began training camp.
Whether Hillis returns remains to be seen. It makes sense for him to test the market. Even if he returns, however, the Browns need to keep an open mind at the position in the offseason, and Shurmur's comments about the club's RB situation were spot-on.
The Browns need more playmaking ability at all of the skill positions. This extends to running back. Hillis gained 3.6 yards per carry in 2011, with Hardesty gaining just 3.0 yards per tote.
Do the Browns need help at quarterback? Absolutely. The same goes for wide receiver. Even the TE position, where the Browns are deep, could use a boost.
In short, their offseason needs are numerous on offense.
And improving the RB corps is one of them.