The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to terms with former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis. This signing is a major mistake on the part of general manager of Scott Pioli, and the most that can be hoped for is just minimal damage with no adverse side effects.
Running back is not an area of prime need for Kansas City. Jamaal Charles is supposed to be back and healthy, and if you’re concerned about his durability (which is naturally a fair enough concern after someone has missed the entire year), then you draft a young back that you can use as a change-of-pace if Charles is healthy or develop if he’s not.
What you don’t do is use precious salary cap space that should be reserved for addressing needs on the offensive line and at backup quarterback so you can pull a player who had one good year (2010) off the slag heap and hope he can magically repeat that performance. Hillis took a heavy pounding in Cleveland, he lacks the shiftiness necessary to have long-term success as a featured back and would be better suited for short yardage situations.
Perhaps Kansas City has such a limited role in mind for Hillis. But it still begs the question of why money is being spent here, when holes at tackle and center could derail a playoff season. It makes one wonder why they haven’t signed a veteran backup to Matt Cassell yet—if a front office thinks it needs insurance for Charles, how much higher is that need for Cassell?
Since terms haven’t been disclosed, it’s possible that Kansas City got away with a low-cost signing for a player who will be a bust and off the team within two years. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case is that the Chiefs wasted time and money pursing a mediocre talent in an area of non-need, rather than locking down quality players in spots they could really use the help.