|Browns sign WR Andrew Hawkins to offer sheet|
|Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:00 PM|
CLEVELAND — The Browns moved a step closer to swiping a player from one of their AFC North rivals.
Cleveland signed Bengals slot receiver Andrew Hawkins to a contract offer sheet on Thursday, a Browns spokesman said. Cincinnati will have five days — until next Tuesday — to match the reported 4-year, $13.6 million deal, which includes a $3.8 million signing bonus, or they’ll lose the speedy and elusive Hawkins.
The Browns are in the market to fill the slot position after releasing troubled wide receiver Davone Bess last week. The Bengals have not said what they intend to do with Hawkins, who caught just 12 passes last season and missed four games with a high ankle sprain.
In 2012, Hawkins had 51 catches for 533 yards and four touchdowns. The 28-year-old Hawkins was in Cleveland’s rookie minicamp in 2007, but wasn’t signed. He played in the Canadian Football League before signing with the Bengals.
If he joins the Browns, the 5-7 Hawkins would provide a nice complement for Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon and another option for quarterback Brian Hoyer, who at this point is the favorite to begin next season as Cleveland’s starter.
As they await Cincinnati’s decision on Hawkins, the Browns are exploring other options and are believed to have interest in New England’s Julian Edelman, a free agent who caught 105 passes last season as Tom Brady’s primary target.
Edelman took over the role once held by Wes Welker and finished with 1,056 yards receiving and six touchdowns. The former Kent State quarterback also handled punt return duties for the Patriots. He has another local connection because he was a teammate on the Patriots with Hoyer, who backed up Brady for three seasons.
On Thursday night, the Browns hosted Houston free agent running back Ben Tate, who could fill a major hole for Cleveland. Tate was supposed to meet with the team on Wednesday but his visit had to be postponed because of a severe winter storm.
Tate rushed for 771 yards and four touchdowns last season, his third with the Texans. He has been on Cleveland’s radar for months, starting soon after the club traded Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round draft pick. Tate has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and he’s rushed for 1,992 yards and 10 TDs.
The Browns didn’t adequately replace Richardson and their rushing game was almost nonexistent.
Earlier in the day, the Browns signed tight end Jim Dray to a 3-year, $5.62 million contract, with $2.25 million in the first season. The 6-5, 255-pounder spent the past four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, setting career highs with 26 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Primarily a blocker, Dray gives the Browns depth at tight end behind Pro Bowl Jordan Cameron and Gary Barnidge.
Dray was impressed that the Browns showed early interest in him.
“Just hearing from my agent that the Browns were pretty aggressive from the start of free agency,” said Dray, drafted out of Stanford in the seventh round in 2010. “I thought that they’d be a great fit for me, so the feeling was mutual and I’m really excited to be here. I’ve been watching (offensive coordinator) coach (Kyle) Shanahan’s offense for Washington the past couple years, and the way they used their tight ends seemed like a good fit.”
The Browns also are waiting for what happens with Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. They placed their transition tag — worth $10.039 million for one year — on him last week and will have five days to match any offer if he signs with another team. Mack has until July 22 to sign his transition tag and it’s possible his situation could drag on.
Revis, Sproles, Smith, Harrison, Tuck on move: Darrelle Revis and Darren Sproles found landing spots in the Northeast. Now Steve Smith and James Harrison look for new NFL homes.
Revis’ stay in Tampa Bay was short and he might not be in New England much longer. After less than a year as a Buccaneer, he was cut Wednesday and officially agreed to terms with the Patriots on Thursday — but only on a 1-year deal, albeit worth about $12 million.
The 28-year-old shutdown cornerback whose contract impasses have led him from the Jets to the Bucs to the Patriots since last April, was the latest big name on the move. Versatile running back-kick returner Sproles will add some juice to Philadelphia’s already high-energy offense after he was acquired from New Orleans. And someone will grab veteran Smith after the standout wide receiver was released by Carolina.
As for Harrison, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year was cut by Cincinnati, where he spent only the 2013 season after being released by Pittsburgh.
It was yet another busy period on the third day of NFL free agency in which Jonathan Martin signed a 2-year contract with San Francisco.
Martin passed his physical Thursday to complete a trade that sent the tackle from the Dolphins to the Niners to be reunited with his college coach, Jim Harbaugh. The teams first announced the move Tuesday night for Martin, who left the Dolphins last fall after accusing teammate Richie Incognito of bullying in a scandal that overshadowed the franchise’s 8-8 season.
Tampa Bay cut tackle Donald Penn and signed Anthony Collins to replace him; Oakland signed defensive end Justin Tuck; Green Bay re-signed linebacker Mike Neal and tight end Andrew Quarless; and the Jaguars formally signed defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood and re-signed defensive end Jason Babin, who led the team with 7½ sacks in 2013.
Revis’ business manager, John Geiger, tweeted: “Now it’s Official.@Revis24 has agreed to terms with the New England Patriots!”
Tampa released the 3-time All-Pro before he was due a $1.5 million bonus. Revis was cut after efforts to trade him and his $16 million salary failed.
New England had a need at the position because Aqib Talib left for Denver. The Patriots have not announced the Revis move.
The Eagles were eager to let the world know about the addition of the 30-year-old Sproles, who figures to be a threat as a receiver, runner, returner and in pass protection against blitzers — all the things he did so well in New Orleans.
“Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon,” coach Chip Kelly said. “He can do it all: run, catch, plus he’s a proven winner. And on top of that, he can bring all of those dynamic skills to the return game as well. There is no question we were all excited once we found out we were going to be able to trade for him.”
Sproles had 71 catches for 604 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 220 yards and two scores in 2013.
Smith has been the face of Carolina’s franchise for a decade. But he turns 35 in May and would have cost the Panthers $7 million under this year’s salary cap. The Panthers still owe Smith $3 million.
“When I took this position I knew that difficult decisions would have to be made along the way,” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “To move on from a storied veteran player is probably the most difficult of all. A decision not to be taken lightly. However, after much thought I feel very strongly it’s the right one.”
Cincinnati no longer was the right place for Harrison, 35, who had a limited role with the Bengals after he helped the Steelers win a pair of Super Bowls.
Harrison played in 15 games, starting 10, and finished 12th on the team in tackles. He had two sacks and one interception.
“It was great for our coaches, players and fans to have James on our team last year,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s a player everyone looks up to because of his ability, his accomplishments and his drive to be the best. He helped us win a division title with his play and with the example he set.
“It’s time for us to go a different direction now, with some younger guys, but we will all still reap benefits from having had James with us as a Bengal last year.”
Tuck, soon to turn 32, got a 2-year deal in Oakland. He spent nine seasons with the New York Giants during which he helped them win two Super Bowls. Tuck has made two Pro Bowls and has 60 ½ career sacks, 20 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in 127 career games.
Oakland also gave linebacker LaMarr Woodley a 2-year deal. Woodley was cut by Pittsburgh.
In other moves:
—Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and Tarvaris Jackson agreed to a 1-year contract for him to back up quarterback Russell Wilson.
—Rodger Saffold’s bizarre free-agent experience ended back in St. Louis. He re-signed Thursday, one day after he failed a physical to void a 5-year, $42.5 million deal with the Raiders.
—Jason Hatcher agreed to a 4-year, $27.5 million deal to join the Redskins, a person with knowledge of the agreement said on condition of anonymity because the contract had not yet been signed. Hatcher had 11 sacks last year and was selected to his first Pro Bowl in his eighth season with the Cowboys.
Washington also agreed to a 1-year contract with free-agent linebacker Darryl Sharpton, according to a person familiar with the deal.
—Buffalo brought back its top tight end, Scott Chandler, who holds the Bills’ record for tight ends with 32 consecutive games with a catch.
—Minnesota signed cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, a starter on Carolina’s improved defense last year. Munnerlyn got a deal that could pay him $15 million over three years with incentives.
—Tight end Garrett Graham re-signed with the Texans, two days after the team released 2-time Pro Bowler Owen Daniels. Graham took over as the starter last season when Daniels was injured and started a career-high 11 games, had 49 receptions for 545 yards and five touchdowns.
—Arizona signed wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to a 3-year contract and agreed to terms on a 2-year deal to keep linebacker Matt Shaughnessy. Ginn had 36 receptions for 556 yards and a career-high five touchdowns with the Panthers in 2013. Ginn also returned 26 punts for 316 yards, setting a franchise record with a 12.2-yard average.
The team also released linebacker Dontay Moch.
—Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa, who’s likely to replace Samson Satele, who started the last two seasons with Indy. Satele was released in a cost-cutting move late last week.
—The New York Giants reached an agreement with fullback Henry Hynoski on a 1-year contract worth $1 million, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
—Dallas signed linebacker and special teams player Will Herring. The eighth-year pro spent the past three seasons with New Orleans after starting his career with four years in Seattle.
—Quarterback Kellen Clemens and linebacker Kavell Conner signed with the Chargers. Clemens spent the last two seasons with the Rams as a backup to Sam Bradford. He replaces Charlie Whitehurst, who left for Tennessee.
—Chicago agreed to a 3-year contract with defensive end Willie Young and a 1-year deal with receiver Domenik Hixon. Young spent four years with Detroit and Hixon had seven catches for 55 yards with Carolina in 2013. He previously played for Denver (2006-07) and the New York Giants (2007-12).
|Last Updated on Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:44 PM|