On Thursday, Cincinnati Bengals restricted free agent wide receiver Andrew Hawkins signed an offer sheet with their division rival Cleveland Browns. Earlier this week, news broke that the Browns would be extending an offer to the former Toledo Rocket in which the Bengals would match. The deal is reportedly four years, $13 million and now the Bengals have five days to match and retain Hawkins.
Soon after the signing took place, there were reports the Bengals had rethought their offer-match based on the way the initial deal was structured. Throughout this free agency period, we’ve heard quite a bit of chatter regarding offseason techniques like transition tagging and in Hawkins’s case, agents and prospective teams structuring contracts in a way that makes it difficult for former teams to hang onto their players.
If the deal isn’t matched within five days, the Browns will be getting a dynamic receiver in Hawkins. Last season, he averaged 9.5 yards after the catch. Compared to the Browns’ slot receiver last season, Davone Bess, who averaged less yardage per catch, you have a guy who can take it the distance on a screen or deep ball.
Hawkins’ signing with the Browns will all but diminish the possibility fellow small-guy slot receiver and former New England Patriot Julian Edelman will be on the Browns’ list of potential free agent signees. Edelman’s former teammate in New England, Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer, was lobbying to bring Edelman to Cleveland.
The addition of Hawkins will provide an added spark to the already exciting group of receivers on the Browns’ roster. Hawkins joins tight end Jordan Cameron, who caught seven touchdown passes last season, and the league-leader in receiving yards, Josh Gordon.
With teams focusing on Gordon, Hawkins should see a significant increase in targets and big plays; giving him a bigger role than while he was a Bengal. If used correctly in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan‘s offense, Hawkins could be a key player for the Browns in 2014.