Browns President Mike Holmgren met with reporters today. Here are some of the highlights from the news conference:
Holmgren addressed the organization's contract negotiations with running back Peyton Hillis, whose rookie deal is set to expire after this season. "We tried to sign an extension," Holmgren said. "There was a difference of opinion. ... Was everyone trying? Yes. From their point of view, we were all trying to get something done. But it didn't happen or hasn't happened. ... Now what has to happen is you have to have a great year to reach these goals. It's to your benefit. It's to the club's benefit. ... No one has called off negotiations. No one has said, 'OK. Let's wait until the end.' It's still kind of in that floating area where you're waiting for a phone call or you're gonna make a phone call. But in the meantime -- in fact I talked with Peyton yesterday, we talk weekly. I said it's important that you just kind of go out there and do the best you can do once you get healthy." Hillis hasn't practiced this week because he has an injured left hamstring.
Holmgren said there was no way the Browns would have traded Hillis, who's pictured to the right, before the trade deadline this past Tuesday. "Why would I trade one of our best players?" Holmgren said. "I wouldn't do it. Now because of the nature of these types of negotiations and if Peyton has a good year, he'll have opportunities now 'cause you enter into free agency, legitimate free agency. Are we gonna be a player in there to try to keep him here? Absolutely. I told him that yesterday."
Holmgren said the negotiations right now are "kind of quiet. It seems to be kind of quiet. Let's let Peyton play. Let's let him play, let the dust settle a little bit and see what happens."
Holmgren said there is no big conspiracy surrounding Hillis, who sat out against the Miami Dolphins with strep throat after his agent advised him to do so and who also suffered a pulled hamstring this past Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. "He couldn't play," Holmgren said. "He was sick. And so then most recently, he pulled a hamstring, and I found out that everyone was concerned during the football game on Sunday. It's not this major conspiracy deal going on. It's just he had an injury, he tried to go again, he couldn't go. "
Holmgren said he has been pleased with how Pat Shurmur has weathered the storm during his first season as a head coach. Holmgren said he doesn't believe calling the plays has been too much for Shurmur, but "in all likelihood we'll hire an offensive coordinator next year because that frees the head coach up." Under that scenario, Holmgren said he believes Shurmur would still call the plays.
Holmgren said quarterback Colt McCoy is "going to play this year. He's our starting quarterback and in essence he's a rookie. ... And then you throw into the mix that he's handling a new system with a new head coach, a new signal-caller, so really it's his rookie year, without an offseason (because of the NFL's lockout). For young people trying to learn a new system, I think that's real. I think that's part of it."