Cleveland made it tough on its in-state rival, floating Hawkins a four-year, $13.6 million deal set to pay the target $10.8 million over the first two years, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Matching the contract would have forced Cincy to swallow a $3.8 million roster bonus and $5.8 million cap hit for the wideout they slapped with a "low" tender.
The Browns are paying for potential. The 5-foot-7 slot receiver has averaged just 2.5 catches per outing during his 35 appearances over three seasons in Cincy. Still, he generated interest from multiple teams attracted to his occasional flashes of playmaking ability.
It all but ends Cleveland's "strong push" for fellow slot man Julian Edelman. Assuming the Bengals don't change their minds, the Browns have landed an upgrade over what little production they got from Davone Bess one season ago.