What the arrival of Jordan Akins means for the Browns tight end room

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns
Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Cleveland Browns added a veteran tight end Friday afternoon when they signed Jordan Akins in free agency. Akins was a former third-round pick that played five seasons with the Houston Texans. While in Houston Akins started 26 games and caught 155 receptions for 1,755 yards and eight touchdowns.

But the numbers that the Browns were more concerned with were ones that were directly connected to Deshaun Watson. Akins played 44 games with Watson during Akins’ first three seasons in the league. Watson and Akins connected on 75 of 122 targets for 992 yards and three touchdowns with 42 converted first downs.

Considering that no offensive staff in the NFL has watched as much Texans tape as the Browns from Watson’s stint with Houston, it's safe to assume that Kevin Stefanski and company are ultra-familiar with Akins’ skills and abilities. It would also stand to reason that Watson himself would have been consulted about his former teammate and the possibility of signing him.

But familiarity and comfortability with Watson aside, and judging the player in a vacuum, what are the Browns getting in Akins?  

Well, Akins is a 6-foot-4 248-pound receiving tight that excels at maximizing his frame in traffic. He possesses strong hands as well as the ability to succeed at the catch point with contested catches. Akins is also a tight end that likes to turn upfield a fight for extra yards, which is a trait that will endear him to fans.

So, what does the arrival of Akins mean for the tight end room and, more specifically, Harrison Bryant?  

From a roster construction perspective, it’s hard to imagine that the Browns paying Akins 5.2 million over the next two seasons to be the third tight end. Especially considering that they are a team looking to become more pass-heavy and should be trending in the direction of more single tight end sets.

Now with Akins in the fold, the Browns have essentially upgraded their second tight end spot, while at the same time, saving money and now have a tradable asset in Harrison Bryant. While Bryant alone would not net a team much by himself in a trade at this point in his young career, he could be paired with a draft pick to trade for a player, or to improve their draft position this year or next.

The arrival of Akins will not affect David Njoku’s role in this offense in any way going forward as he will remain the focal point of the tight end room. At the end of the day, Akins should only see about a third of Njoku’s snap count.

But the addition of Akins does give Watson another receiving target with a valuable skill set. The fact that Watson and Akins have an established working relationship is just an added bonus.

Next. Why Mecole Hardman is a good fit for the Cleveland Browns. dark