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Browns sign restricted free-agent WR Andrew Hawkins to offer sheet, Bengals have 5 days to match

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2014

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Cincinnati Bengals restricted free-agent wide receiver Andrew Hawkins has signed an offer sheet with the Browns, so the Bengals have five days to match it.

NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported today that the Bengals are now unlikely to match the offer after rethinking their position.

Apparently, the Bengals have changed their minds a few times.

When Hawkins originally agreed to the deal with the Browns Tuesday night, NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported a Bengals source said the team wasn’t likely to match the offer. Then on Wednesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Bengals planned to match the offer after all. This afternoon, Breer reported the structure of the offer sheet has caused the Bengals to flip-flop again.

The reported value of the contract has been inconsistent as well. A league source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, told the Beacon Journal today that the offer sheet had been reworked some since Tuesday and that it’s a four-year deal now worth $13.6 million, including a $3.8 million signing bonus due next week. Rapoport reported that the contract would pay Hawkins $10.8 million in the first two years. Because the deal is front-loaded, the source considers it doubtful that the Bengals will match it.

The Bengals reportedly tendered Hawkins for $1.45 million. Because Hawkins went undrafted, the Browns would not have to give the Bengals any compensation if the offer isn't matched.

It remains to be seen what the Bengals will do. After all, it's possible that they could change their minds again before the deadline to match the offer arrives.

seem to have received Hawkins contract," the team's website editor, Geoff Hobson, tweeted today. "No sign of decision, due Tuesday."

The Browns need a slot receiver like Hawkins to fill the void created by the departure of Davone Bess, whose off-field issues led to the team cutting him last week.

Michael Giardi ‏of CSNNE.com reported this morning that the Browns were making a "strong push" to sign New England Patriots free-agent receiver Julian Edelman. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was lobbying for Edelman, his former teammate in New England. Also, new Browns strong safety Donte Whitner said he has told the organization to pursue Carolina Panthers free-agent receiver Ted Ginn Jr., his former teammate at Glenville High School, Ohio State and with the San Francisco 49ers.

The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Hawkins played in just eight games last year because a high-ankle sprain kept him sidelined for half of the season. He had 12 catches for 199 yards. In 2012, he had 51 catches for 533 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. During his first season with the Bengals in 2011, he had 23 catches for 263 yards in 13 games.

Hawkins, 28, went undrafted after his career at the University of Toledo ended in 2007. He went to rookie minicamp with the Browns but didn’t receive a contract. He then spent time in the Canadian Football League before catching on in the NFL with the Bengals.

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