Andrew Hawkins is close to taking his talents from Ohio to another place in Ohio.
Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports that the Browns have signed the restricted free agent to a four-year offer sheet. As a restricted free agent, the Bengals now have seven days to match the offer and retain Hawkins or let him go play for their AFC North rival. And because Hawkins was given an original-pick tender, the Bengals will receive no compensation if they lose the undrafted slot receiver.
Hawkins turned 28 years old yesterday.
Update: Ulrich reports, via a source that the offer sheet is worth $12.2 million over four seasons. It includes $4 million guaranteed. It's more than six times the value of Hawkins' tender offer ($1.45 million).
This is a relatively low-risk, high-reward maneuver by the Browns. Cleveland is really hurting at wide receiver past Josh Gordon . Greg Little hasn't come close to living up to his talent. Travis Benjamin is better as a returner than a receiver. They released Davone Bess last week.
But Hawkins could definitely cure some ails. He is a big-play threat out of the slot. His lack of size -- 5-foot-7, 180 pounds -- leaves him susceptible to injury; he missed half of the 2013 season due to an ankle injury. But he averaged 16.6 yards per catch in limited time and posted a couple of 50-yard touchdown plays in 2012. Putting his speed on the same side of the field with Gordon could cause major headaches for defenses. We'll see if that's an actual possibility in seven days.