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Re-Signing Rashard Higgins Should Be Top Priority For Browns Free Agency

The Cleveland Browns had a great 2020-21 season, but now it’s time to look towards next year. Right now, the Browns are in a good situation salary cap-wise. They have Myles Garrett locked down until 2027, Jarvis Landry until 2023, and offensive linemen Joel Bitonio and Jack Conklin under contract until 2023. However, with a young core of stars, featuring Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns will have to find a way to retain as many of these players as possible. I already made my point about waiting to pick up Mayfield’s fifth-year option, but one name not mentioned yet, Rashard Higgins, should be the Browns free agency focus this offseason.

Higgins Wants to Stay In Cleveland

Higgins made an appearance on ESPN 850 in Cleveland, and he made it crystal clear that he wanted to stay with the Browns Organization.

“I’m excited,” Higgins said. “We want to see when we can get this contract stuff done. . .  We want it to be with the Browns. It’s up in the air right now. We haven’t got no contracts from the guys so everything is up in the air right now. . . . Tell [G.M.] Andrew [Berry] to send  the papers and I’m signing wherever I gotta sign.”

While this does not put Higgins in a sticky situation, he has no real leverage over the team now. It is very important they get the ex-Colorado State receiver to sign a contract as soon as possible, preferably for 2-3 years. If you have watched any Browns game since 2018, when Mayfield was drafted, it is clear to see the connection between Mayfield and Higgins.

Browns free agency rashard higgins nfl
Credit: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Higgins and Mayfield

Higgins signed a one-year deal with the Browns worth $910,000 last spring. He is absolutely due for an upgrade. Mayfield and Higgins have a great connection on and off the field. In fact, it’s possible the most important conversation Higgins ever had with Mayfield took place before he signed his one-year deal with Cleveland last spring. Higgins can recite the conversation by heart:

“I talked to Baker, of course,” Higgins said during a Zoom call Monday. “I was like, ‘You know what, Bake, I’m not even going to second-chance this thing. Cleveland is where I want to be. You’re my boy, let’s do this thing, bro. We’ve got another year, nothin’s promised. Let’s just live it up, do what we can, best foot forward and not look back.’” (Akron-Beacon Journal)

After he signed his deal, Higgins made it clear that Mayfield played a huge part in his decision to re-sign with the Browns, considering he had a handful of more lucrative offers from other teams.

Why Browns Free Agency Priority Should be to Re-Sign Rashard Higgins

The 26-year-old was in no way a sure thing when he was drafted out of Colorado State in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. In Mayfield’s first season in the NFL, Higgins broke out, with 39 catches for 472 yards and four touchdowns, all thrown by Mayfield. Other than Landry, Higgins was Mayfield’s favorite target during his rookie season.

In 2019, under new head coach Freddie Kitchens, the Browns season was a disaster. They finished third in the AFC North, with a 6-10 record. Higgins was a non-factor all season, as he fell out of favor with Kitchens almost immediately, causing skepticism from Higgins about re-signing in Cleveland.

This past season, Higgins had his best year to date. He started in six games, catching 37 passes for 599 yards and four touchdowns. Higgins is not the unknown player he was when he left Colorado State, and teams around the NFL have noticed.

Clearly, Higgins wants to stay in Cleveland, so the Browns need to get a deal done quickly, before other NFL teams start making offers to him. It’s likely that he would take less money to stay in Cleveland, but that shouldn’t be the sole reason the Browns re-sign him. Mayfield and Higgins clearly have a connection, and if the Browns believe Mayfield is the quarterback for the future, then it would be wise to re-sign his second-favorite target, who unlike other athletes, loves the city of Cleveland and it’s football history.

“I love everything about Cleveland. This is where I was drafted, this is where I want to be. There’s no place like Cleveland.” (Akron Beacon Journal)

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