TAMPA — Peyton Hillis, a featured running back three years ago with the Browns but a spot player today, signed a one-year contract with the Bucs on Tuesday to compete for a spot in the backfield.
Hillis, 27, and several other players worked out for Tampa Bay on Tuesday. That group included tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, but only Hillis received a contract. The former Browns and Chiefs running back had a career-best 1,177 yards with Cleveland in 2010, a performance that thrust him into the limelight and landed him a spot on the cover of the popular Madden video game.
Hillis has been much less productive since, rushing for 587 and 309 yards in 2011 and 2012, respectively, for the Chiefs. The Bucs' primary candidates to back up Doug Martin are rookie Mike James and Michael Smith, with whom Hillis will compete. Brian Leonard, coach Greg Schiano's former player at Rutgers, is envisioned as a third-down back.
Hillis will also see some opportunity at fullback, a position he has played before. Erik Lorig is the two-year starter there.
Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer