Cleveland Browns Free Agent Assessment: WR Rashard Higgins

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Start our 2021 look back at the Browns‘Unrestricted free agent is WR Rashard Higgins.

Photo by Nic Antaya / Getty Images

How and when he came to the Browns: Higgins was a fifth round of the Browns election in 2016 NFL draft, that was the same year in which Andrew Berry joined Cleveland’s Front Office. Despite leaving Cleveland, Berry returned last year, which presents a greater chance that that loyalty factor comes into play.

Last season productivity level: After staying in the dog house in 2019 with Freddie kitchens Whatever the reason, Higgins decided to sign a 1-year deal with Cleveland in 2020 in the hopes that this new head coach would Kevin Stefanski would use his abilities and allow him to have the contract year he was robbed a season earlier.

Despite the new coaching staff, Higgins’ season still started with not getting much playing time. While Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were the starters, it ended KhaDarel Hodge who saw action as the No. 3 recipient. When Hodge was injured in week 3, the door opened to see action for Higgins, and in weeks 4 and 5, he got a touchdown pass. In Week 6, Beckham suffered an end-of-season injury that made Higgins a starting point for the remainder of the season. He blossomed in that role, displaying the same kind of chemistry we knew he could have with Baker Mayfield based on her success from a few seasons back.

Higgins finished the regular season with 37 catches for 599 yards and 4 touchdowns. In two playoff games, he caught 7 passes for 116 yards – with the only major regret that he had tried to extend the ball to the pylon for a touchdown. Higgins averaged 16.2 meters per reception, the best mark of his career.

Why it might make sense to keep it: Higgins remains one of my favorite players with the Browns; He’s just solid in every way and he’s proven that this season too. As great as it is to have Landry and Beckham, you never know when one of your top recipients may be injured.

Higgins branded chemistry with Mayfield. He’s the type of player that the team can keep on the bench and call when needed to play at a relatively high level. With Beckham still recovering from a torn ACL, he will not be available for the team’s off-season training sessions. So it’s more important that a reliable player like Higgins work with Mayfield and the offensive.

What the Browns Should Do: Personally, I hope Cleveland keeps Higgins. I think Cleveland’s group of wide-angle receivers is more than acceptable, and their efforts to improve positions should be focused almost entirely on defense. However, if the Browns choose to track a free agent receiver at the location at more speed, this could be a scenario where the team is using those skills instead of Higgins. Or they might decide they’d rather dedicate this role Donovan Peoples-Jones move forward.

I am optimistic that Cleveland is interested in re-signing Higgins. Back in DecemberThere were reports that preliminary discussions had taken place between Higgins and the Browns about a contract extension. The question is, what kind of dollar amount are you betting on Higgins?

The Browns were able to sign him for the veteran minimum last season after no other team showed enough interest in him: $ 910,000. That won’t happen again. However, in a crowded free agent market, Higgins is competing for the position to which it belongs Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, JuJu Smith-Cobbler, Corey Davis, Antonio Brown, TY Hilton, Curtis Samuel, Marvin Jones, Nelson Agholar, Sammy Watkins, Keelan Cole, Danny Amendola, Breshad Perriman, AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald.

I don’t think any NFL team in this type of competition will specifically identify Higgins and tell him, “You are our ultimate goal and we are ready to throw you a 4-year deal for $ 20 million.”

In 2020, only three free agent recipients received multi-year contracts – Randall Cobb, Emmanuel Sanders, and Robby Anderson. Perriman landed the largest 1-year deal worth $ 6.5 million. The majority of free agents then received about the veteran minimum. With the market as saturated as it was in 2021, these bigger names will be taking up the bigger dollar amounts, but Higgins won’t be as lucky. The fact that Cleveland attempted a contract extension in December implies that it would last longer than a year. I forecast a two-year contract for Higgins worth $ 4.5 million.

Let us know below if the team should try to re-sign Rashard Higgins.

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