Now a free agent, let’s take a look at five potential landing spots for the veteran tailback.
New England Patriots
No contending team is in a stickier situation when it comes to running back than the Patriots. With Dion Lewis missing the first six weeks of the season on the PUP list, New England is left to mainly rely on LeGarrette Blount and James White to pick up the slack. Both are serviceable, at best, and can’t be trusted alone to significantly help quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Pairing Blount with a shifty, every-down player like Hillman would give the Patriots a solid one-two punch, not to mention fulfill coach Bill Belichick’s M.O. of getting production out of castoffs.
Reuniting Hillman with his former offensive coordinator from Denver in Adam Gase makes too much sense. Gase knows how to utilize quick, one-cut backs and could do the same in Miami with the 24-year-old. With oft-injured veteran Arian Foster and the underwhelming Jay Ajayi as the top two ball carriers, there’s no reason for the Dolphins not to at least consider giving Hillman a call.
Will the Bears be contenders or pretenders in 2016? That loaded question may depend on if their offense can get anything out of the run game with Matt Forte gone. Uncertainty still surrounds incumbents Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey, as it remains to be seen as to if they can capably step into Forte’s shoes.
An established commodity in Hillman – who played under coach John Fox for three seasons in Denver – might make all of the difference, and would immediately provide a substantial boost to Chicago’s rushing attack.
Luckily for coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, it doesn’t appear as though they’ll miss retiree Marshawn Lynch all that much. Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael have firmly taken control of the reigns and could quickly become one of the league’s better duos at tailback.
Incorporating a third runner into the mix isn’t a bad idea, especially a proven entity such as Hillman. His ability to dash between the tackles and come out of the backfield as a receiver on any given down would be a nice addition to Seattle’s dynamic offense.
If the Ravens want to return to the upper-echelon of the NFL, they’ll need to rediscover their ground game that made them so difficult to deal with in years past. As of right now, Terrance West, Javorius (Buck) Allen, and Kenneth Dixon are on track to split carries.
All three are unproven and none have the difference-maker look to them that is required at the position in the AFC North. Why not bring in Hillman and see what he can do behind Baltimore’s physical offensive line?