If the Bengals want to bolster their receiver depth, Andrew Hawkins should be at or near the top of their free agent board.
By no means is Hawkins a game-changing receiver, which is in part why the Browns just released him. He made a big impact in Cleveland during the 2014 season, catching 63 passes for 824 yards and two scores in 15 games. However, injuries and poor play at quarterback helped limit Hawkins to just 60 catches for 600 yards and three scores across 24 games over the next two seasons.
But Hawkins fits nearly every check mark the Bengals prefer in their free agents:
- Hawkins was just released, so signing him won't affect compensatory draft picks.
- There's familiarity between the team and Hawkins, who played in Cincinnati from 2011-2013.
- Even though he left, Hawkins spent the next three seasons with the Browns, so the Bengals still know what he has to offer.
- Hawkins may be a solid slot receiver, but he'll come cheap, probably cheaper than the deal Brandon LaFell got last year.
Speaking of, the Bengals have little need for another receiver if they're able to re-sign LaFell. That would give the Bengals a receiver group that includes LaFell, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Alex Erickson and James Wright heading into next season, leaving little room for Hawkins.
But if LaFell signs with another team, Boyd will likely spend more time on the boundary after being relegated mostly to the slot last season. That may be his best fit in the NFL, but Boyd certainly has the ability to make an impact on the boundary, whereas Hawkins wouls strictly be used in the slot.
What say you?