It looks like the Cleveland Browns have poached an AFC North rival’s wide receiver in restricted free agency, as the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t expected to match the Browns four-year offer sheet for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. It was initially reported that the Browns would give Hawkins $12.2 million, but it has since been reported that his offer sheet is worth $13.6 million. That has helped changed things, as the Bengals were initially expected to match the offer for him, but they are now set to let him go.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that the structure of the offer sheet that Hawkins recently signed has been the main thing giving the Bengals organization pause (the money is a small part of it), and the Bengals are now “unlikely” to match the Browns offer for Hawkins after rethinking things. The reported difference in dollar amount for his deal wouldn’t change things from the Bengals perspective anyway, because they always knew the true dollar amount.
Hawkins has signed his offer sheet with the Browns, so he will officially join them if they don’t keep him around. They need another wide receiver, and they will likely be off of the Julian Edelman sweepstakes if all goes as planned. Hawkins, 28, caught 51 passes in 2012 and is a decent add for the Browns, but they are making a significant investment in him. He isn’t making much per year, but the Browns clearly have plans for him after taking him from a rival in restricted free agency and giving him four years. By structuring the deal in a shrewd manner, the Browns have clearly helped their cause.