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Bengals plan to match Andrew Hawkins' offer sheet

The battle of Ohio has been reduced to a tug-of-war over a diminutive slot receiver.

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The Cleveland Browns have signed Cincinnati Bengals restricted free agent Andrew Hawkins to a multiyear offer sheet, NFL Media's Albert Breer reports.

Hawkins intends to sign the offer sheet, which will put the ball back in Cincinnati's court with 10 days to match.

It certainly appears the Bengals' brass has underestimated Hawkins' value.

"Baby Hawk" also drew interest from the Redskins. The first-day action proves he is highly regarded in NFL circles.

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After being under-utilized in a deep wide-receiving corps last season, he was tendered at the original-pick level. What that means is the team receives no compensation if Mike Brown's front office indeed decides Cleveland's offer is too rich.

If he does switch Ohio allegiances, Hawkins will bring strong run-after-catch ability as Davone Bess' replacement in the slot.

Since new Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has shown creativity as a play-caller, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the lighting-quick Hawkins line up in the backfield on occasion as well. It would be a smart signing by a new regime seeking playmakers behind Josh Gordon.

UPDATE: A team source tells Breer the Bengals' plan is to match the offer sheet extended to Hawkins by the Browns.

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