When the Bengals tendered their restricted free agents last week, several teams perked up after Cincinnati gave Andrew Hawkins an original round tender. Because another team could sign Hawkins to an offer sheet for a multi-year deal, they wouldn't have to sacrifice any of their draft picks if the Bengals decline to match that offer.
In the past two weeks, three teams have expressed some level of interest in obtaining Hawkins. The New York Jets are, for now, just interested. The Washington Redskins have already inquired about Hawkins and according Aditi Kinkhabwala with the NFL Network, the Cleveland Browns have been showing "major interest".
The level interest has translated into a contract offer. According to Albert Breer with the NFL Network, the Browns have given Hawkins a multi-year offer.
Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins has a multi-year offer sheet from Cleveland. He's a restricted FA, so when signed, Cincy has matching rights.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 11, 2014
In other words, Hawkins hasn't signed yet but he plans to.
... And just to be clear, Andrew Hawkins plans to sign the offer sheet with the Browns. So the Bengals will have to mull over matching it.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 11, 2014
When/if he does, the Bengals will have seven days to match the offer. If not, Cincinnati receives no compensation because Hawkins is a restricted free agent who was given the lowest tender. According to multiple reports, the offer sheet is a four-year deal.
After posting a career-year with 51 grabs, 533 yards receiving and four touchdowns in 2012, Hawkins only played eight games in 2013 after dealing with a high ankle sprain -- which largely impacted his overall participation.