There has been a lot of discussion about how the Ravens might fill the void left by running back Ricky Williams surprising decision to retire.
The Ravens have stated theyre going to give Anthony Allen, their 2011 seventh-round pick, every chance to take over the job as Ray Rices backup, which certainly would be cost effective.
But knowing how much they value the position seeking production while limiting the wear on Rices tires -- I suspect theyll eventually dip into the free agent market, which features such possibilities as Cedric Benson, LeRon McClain, Ryan Grant and Ronnie Brown.
Heres another thought, admittedly outside the box, but worth contemplating...Peyton Hillis.
The Cleveland Browns want to keep him, but they reportedly arent going to use their franchise tag on him to make sure he stays, which means hell hit the open market with the others on March 13.
Having churned through several agents recently, Hillis the NFLs surprise sensation of 2010 -- obviously believes he deserves a big contract. But after a disappointing 2011 on the field and some curious behavior off the field, he might find the market for his services cooler than he expects.
The Ravens have enough cap issues that they probably wouldnt offer more than 2 million a year for two years roughly what they paid Ricky but its not impossible that enough teams would be scared off by Hillis antics (ESPNs Adam Schefter reported Thursday that he considered walking away from the NFL and joining the CIA last season) that common ground could be found.
Hillis, 26, certainly would give the Ravens an effective weapon behind Rice, fitting right into their power running game. He has produced a 100-yard rushing game against Baltimore in each of the past two season, so the Ravens know his talents well.
As a backup, he wouldnt run up the big stats you need to generate the big contract he wants, but he would go from last place in the AFC North to the top of the division, playing on a winner for the first time. That might sway him. And the money wouldnt exactly be paltry.
A year or two of quietly producing on a winner could set him up for a big payday.
As for the case of superstar-itis he clearly contracted after his big performance in 2010, he wouldnt be close to the biggest name in Baltimores locker room, which should keep him in line.
The odds of it happening are long, but the upside would be considerable. If the Ravens really are intent on putting a better offense on the field, they could do worse than add Hillis to their mix.