Higgins had an opportunity to field offer sheets from other teams, but it seems the original-round restricted free agent tender was enough to limit interest in the 2016 fifth-round selection. He now figures to battle Antonio Callaway for the No. 3 receiver job, with both players coming off a strong finish to 2018. It'll be tough to find consistent target volume in an offense led by Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson, but the impressive collection of talent should at least create more scoring opportunities to go around.
Higgins is part of an upgraded Cleveland offense that added wide receiver Odell Beckham and tight end Demetrius Harris earlier this week, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.
With Beckham and Jarvis Landry presumably playing the vast majority of snaps, Higgins likely will need to compete with Antonio Callaway for the No. 3 receiver job in a loaded offense. Higgins rode a strong finish to career-high marks across the board in 2018, notably holding huge advantages over Callaway for both catch rate (73.6 to 54.4) and yards per target (10.8 to 7.4). To be fair, Callaway was a 21-year-old rookie, and much like Higgins he improved throughout the season. With both players still on rookie contracts, the Browns shouldn't feel much pressure to make a trade, though it could make sense if they receiver a generous offer for either Higgins or Callaway. Given the wealth of talent elsewhere on the roster, it'll be tough for Cleveland's No. 3 receiver to draw more than 3-5 targets per game.
It's unclear which of the tenders (first-, second- or original-round) was given to Higgins, but the Browns will have the right to match any offer that he receives as a restricted free agent. He fared well working with Baker Mayfield for most of the 2018 season, when he gathered in 39 of his 53 targets for 572 yards and four touchdowns. Such production should help Higgins cultivate interest on the open market.
General manager John Dorsey indicated he will place a contract tender on Higgins before the receiver can hit free agency this offseason, Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports.
While Dorsey didn't say which level of tender he will place upon Higgins, the point is that Higgins isn't going anywhere in 2019. The wideout should remain the fourth receiving option behind Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and tight end David Njoku.
Higgins, an impending restricted free agent, said he wants to stay in Cleveland long term, Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
The 2016 fifth-round pick took a big step forward alongside Baker Mayfield this past season, notching career-high marks for catches (39), targets (53), yards (573) and touchdowns (four) as well as yards per reception (14.7) and yards per target (10.8). Higgins did his damage in just 13 games, with his workload peaking over the final two weeks of the season (86 snaps, 13 targets, 10 catches). It will be interesting to see how the Browns approach the wideout position this offseason, considering they also have Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway under contract and have already expressed interest in re-signing Breshad Perriman. Given how well the group played late in the season, Cleveland likely will devote its plethora of cap space to other positions in free agency, though a splash move at wide receiver can't totally be ruled out. Higgins' status as a restricted free agent should keep him Cleveland for at least one more season even if there's no progress on a long-term agreement.
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