The Cleveland Browns made another official splash in free agency when they snatched a wide out from the rival Cincinnati Bengals. It was announced today that the Bengals will not match the Browns offer sheet signed by Andrew Hawkins. The front loaded contract was tough for Cincinnati to contend with.

The 28 year old will receive a $3.8 million signing bonus in addition to making $10.8 million within the first two years. The offer sheet agreed upon is worth a total $13.6 million over four years. Seems like an abundance of money for a young man coming off a frustrating season.

Hawkins missed the first half of the 2013 season due to an ankle injury. Consequently, the Pennsylvania native played in only eight games, catching a measly 12 passes, racking up 199 yards and no touchdowns. Despite the devastating numbers, Hawkins shows great potential and speed nearly unmatched.

With that in mind, the former Toledo wide receiver set career highs in 2012. The slot receiver accumulated 51 receptions, 553 yards, and four touchdowns. Hawkins was third on the team in reception yards.

Although it doesn’t appear like it, Andrew Hawkins is a huge upgrade for the slot. Davone Bess was a complete let down last year, dropping more balls than a toddler. Both players are 28 years old, but I believe Hawkins is more reliable and features more speed. Our new receiver has demonstrated impressive lateral quickness. He can line up anywhere in the slot and run various option routes.

Correspondingly, this improves the Browns offense significantly, adding another dimension to go along with Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, and new founded running game featuring Ben Tate. Hawkins will move up the depth chart to become an immediate starter, no longer seeing a limited amount of snaps. This free agent signing fills another need for the Cleveland Browns.

Not to mention, this is probably a dream come true for the young wide out. Andrew Hawkins was born in Pennsylvania and attended the University of Toledo, in northern Ohio, from 2004-2007. After going undrafted, Hawkins worked out for the Cleveland Browns but was not signed. Their history didn’t stop there, Cleveland showed interest in Hawkins the following year, but wouldn’t be released from his Canadian Football League contract.

Andrew Hawkins was a two time Grey Cup champion with the Montreal Alouettes. After three years in Cincinnati deep on the depth chart, Hawkins pro career has come full circle. Hawkins is finally a Cleveland Brown and will continue to grow and contribute to this team. Certainly, the speedy Hawkins will increase his career totals of 86 catches, 995 yards and four touchdowns.

I would like this opportunity to compare Hawkins three years of work to Greg Little’s three seasons. Little’s statistics, nearly double those of Hawkins (155 receptions, 1,821 yards, and eight scores) but he has played in 13 more games than Hawkins. Greg Little has clearly seen more playing time ever since being drafted. Since being a rookie, Little has been listed on the depth chart as a number two, number one, and back down to a second option. Despite, Hawkins being buried on the depth chart for his whole career expect 2012, when he appeared as the number three I believe, both receivers have career averages over 11 yards per catch.

At five feet, seven inches, weighing 175 pounds, Andrew Hawkins doesn’t look like much but looks can be deceiving. The 28 year old gives Cleveland an unpredictable asset with endless possibilities in the near future. I am excited to see what this kid can do before, during, and after the catch.

– Max Gold

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