Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told Lance McAlister on 700 WLW's Sports Talk that the team still haven't made a decision whether or not to match Cleveland's offer sheet for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Call it a coach being a coach in the public eye, answer a question without saying much of anything.
To most, it would be surprise if Cincinnati pulled the trigger. Cleveland signed Hawkins to a four-year deal worth $13.6 million with $10.8 million dished out the first two years -- with projected cap values of $5.8 million in 2014. Because Hawkins is a restricted free agent, the Bengals have the right of first refusal. Their deadline is Tuesday.
One has to ask themselves: What are the consequences of losing Hawkins?
They lose one of the more dynamic gunners in the game -- Hawkins sprinting down-field on a punt, placing himself in position to, either down the football within the five-yard line, or force the returner to wave for the fair catch, was a thing of beauty.
Then there's the explosive plays giving Cincinnati significant advantages -- usually when the defense goofed up during an Andy Dalton scramble. The 50-yarder against Cleveland in week two was insane...
...and the 59-yarder the following week in Washington two years ago, were both dynamic touchdowns. And the 50-yarder, on a well-placed pass outside of San Diego's coverage, setup Mike Nugent's 46-yard field goal to give Cincinnati a 17-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, the big plays were infrequent. Of the 35 games played in Cincinnati, Hawkins generated 50 yards or more receiving six times. It's the same number of games with five or more receptions. Hawkins averaged 2.91 receptions per game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, with no scores and 33.6 yards per game. And when Cincinnati reached the postseason, Hawkins averaged two receptions for 14.3 yards.
We have to acknowledge that play designs from former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, and/or lack of attention from starting quarterback Andy Dalton to read his progressions, could present a talent-rich receiver into a mediocre light.
But the question is Cincinnati's and Cincinnati's alone. What are the consequences? They lose a tremendous special teams player and an offensive threat that tends to offer inconsistent production -- despite being the team's best slot receiver in '11 and '12. Worth a $5.8 million cap hit? Eh.
The other argument: How will Hawkins impact the Browns, clearly an upgrade in the slot over Davone Bess, when playing against the Cincinnati Bengals?