Not long after the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns announced a one-year contract with wide receiver Rashard Higgins. What effect could he have in 2020?
After strong seasons in 2017 and 2018, wide receiver Rashard Higgins appeared to be in the Freddie Kitchens (or John Dorsey) doghouse for 2019. There are rumors that Higgins may have not helped the situation last year, but with a new regime, the Cleveland Browns and Andrew Berry have decided to bring back Higgins for one more year.
Higgins signed a one-year veteran minimum contract of $910,000 for the 2020 season, yes Odell Beckham makes that per game. But the big question now, what does that mean for the Browns?
In 2018 Higgins had 39 receptions for 572 yards and 4 touchdowns, and after the addition of Beckham last year the trio of Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Higgins was supposed to be one of the most feared in the league.
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The season started out just that way, with the Browns marching down the field against the Tennessee Titans and Dontrell Hilliard punching it in the endzone. On that drive Baker Mayfield was four of five with 64 yards, Higgins had three targets and two catches totaling 46 yards.
The rest of the season Higgins had eight targets and two catches for 11 yards.
Higgins would suffer a knee injury week one that would keep him from the field, but the feeling was never right again. He claimed to be healthy enough to play while head coach Kitchens held him off the active 53-man roster. Additionally, there were rumors that Higgins refused to play at the end of a game that was out of hand.
It’s been reported that Higgins had better offers from different teams, but wanted to return to Cleveland because of his love for Baker Mayfield. Clearly the issues were with the past leaders, and both parties are ready to put the issues in the past and move on. With Higgins on the roster, the Browns wide receiver depth went from a question mark to a strength of the team.
The Browns lost fan favorites like Joe Schober and Christian Kirksey already, but losing Higgins would have devastated fans. A third wide receiver that Mayfield is comfortable with will be a tremendous asset for next season.
Yes, Kevin Stefanski prefers two tight ends to three wide receivers on the field, but Higgins will get plenty of opportunities on passing downs and if an injury would occur. The upgrade from Damion Ratley or rookie Donovan People-Jones to Higgins is substantial.
With eight receivers currently on the roster, there is a good chance that two or three will not make the squad unless there is some promise on special teams. Beckham, Landry, and Higgins appear to be the easy locks to make the roster. Recently signed JoJo Natson will likely earn a spot with KhaDarel Hodge because of special team’s needs.
Natson is a strong returner and Hodge has developed into a coverage ace. Ratley, Taywan Taylor, and People-Jones are the remaining three receivers who could be fighting for one position. With Ratley and Taylor both being Dorsey signings, Peoples-Jones could be the front runner. With above-average size and return skills, the 5-star recruit still has a lot of upsides.
Bringing Higgins back on a cheap one-year contract is a huge win for the Browns. The next best thing to better blocking for Mayfield is targets to distribute the ball. One thing is for certain, there will be no excuses next year for not having a powerful and exciting offense.