The Cleveland Browns might not end up being able to bring Peyton Hillis back, but at least they'll have Phil Dawson again in 2012. After placing the franchise tag on Dawson last season, the Browns decided to do it for the second straight year. By rule, he will have to make about a 120% increase over his salary from 2011, which would end up coming to about $3.8 million.
This will mark Dawson's 14th season with the Browns, since he has been with the team since its expansion season in 1999. Dawson has shown no signs of regressing in terms of his kicking ability, which is why he has stayed with the team so long and the Browns were willing to make him their franchise player again. He connected on 24-of-29 field goals last year, but that doesn't tell just how good he was. At least 3-4 of those kicks were either blocked, or the result of a terrible snap by Ryan Pontbriand. Dawson still came through with a career-best seven field goals from a distance of beyond 50 yards.
It's still worth mentioning that even though the Browns used the franchise tag on Dawson, that could still be a mechanism to keep him from becoming a free agent; they can still negotiate and agree to a long-term deal with him.
Note: Hat tip to Jon @ DBN for posting about this as a FanShot.