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Browns President Mike Holmgren: team working on contract extensions with RB Peyton Hillis, DT Ahtyba Rubin

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 9, 2011
Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis practices at the NFL football team's training camp in Berea, Ohio Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Updated at 2:40 p.m.

Browns President Mike Holmgren told the Beacon Journal the team is working on extending the contracts of running back Peyton Hillis, who's pictured to the left, and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin.

Both players are entering the final seasons of their contracts. They each received a raise because of the new collective bargaining agreement and are now scheduled to make base salaries of $600,000 this year.

Securing young, core players is one of the Browns' top priorities, Holmgren said. The team recently signed offensive lineman Joe Thomas and tight end Evan Moore to extensions. It's one of the reasons the Browns weren't very active in free agency this year.

"For us, we knew we had to keep funds for Joe Thomas," Holmgren said. "We knew that. We’re attempting to do the same thing with Peyton Hillis and a couple other fellas on the football team. You just look at it and say, 'OK. This is what you have to work with. How are you gonna spend your money?' Next year might be different, but this year we tried to make an intelligent decision on how we were gonna do that.

"Rubin’s another guy, yeah. We’re working very hard on that. When you’re where we are, and we’re young and we’re kind of building the number of key free agents or core players that are deserving right now, we don’t have as many as some teams. We’ve got a few, so that’s what we’re trying to do."

Browns coach Pat Shurmur acknowledged it's important to make sure players who form the team's nucleus stick around.

"We’re making an effort and Mike (Holmgren) confirmed it," Shurmur said. "We’re making an effort to try to tie up guys for a long term that we feel really good about it."

Hillis said he won't allow himself to be distracted by the contract talks.

"I still have the same mindset as I've ever had," Hillis said. "I think that when the Browns want to extend me, they'll extend me. And so I’m going to do my part, go out there and play hard and do what I can do to (make) myself a player. That's the only kind of mindset that I have.

"This is the first time I've ever really been through a negotiation process, and it takes a lot of time. It's very sporadic, really spread out. I try not to let it affect me. (I'll) let my agent take care of it, so it don't affect my game."

Rubin, who's pictured to the far left, also said he'd rather focus on the Browns' regular-season opener Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals than concern himself with an extension. But Rubin said he would be open to staying in Cleveland for years to come.

"I’m just really trying to focus on this Sunday and (trying to) produce on the game field and let everything else handle itself," Rubin said. "But if they do that, keep me here, it shows they really trust me and really want me here for a long time. So, yeah, I feel good about it.

"I love Cleveland. I love the fans here. It's a great football state, a football town. I've got friends and family here, so I'd love to be here for a long time."

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