Yesterday, the Browns finally got the man they’ve been looking for when they stole Andrew Hawkins away from the Bengals. As Hawkins was a restricted free agent, Cincinnati had the option to match Cleveland’s offer of a four-year, $13.6 million contract, but after using five days to mull the decision over, they let their wide receiver walk.
“I don’t want to let Andrew go without making note that he has been a very hard working and contributing player,” said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. “He has set a great example of being a great teammate. But we’re fortunate to have a lot of depth at wide receiver, and we’re excited to move forward. Our leading receivers from last year will all return, and we have another group who know our system and have earned our confidence that they are ready to see more action.”
While an inter-division player swap is always interesting, the story should really be about Hawkins. In 2012, he had a breakout season with 51 receptions, 533 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but subsequently missed half of last season with an ankle injury. That being said, it’s Hawkins’ journey, which has been marred with obstacles and setbacks, that truly defines him as a player.
Coming out of Toledo in 2008, the 5-foot-7, 175 pound wide out was spurned by the NFL. In the following years Hawkins spent time working in a wind turbine factory, caddying at a country club and interning as a scout with the Detroit Lions. Nonetheless, Hawkins was undeterred, and in 2009, he attempted to make his way into the NFL in one of the most unconventional ways ever – a reality show
After finishing as runner-up and barely missing out on a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys, Hawkins went to Montreal, where he won back-to-back championships with the Alouettes under current Bears coach Marc Trestman.
“I don’t think I would be here today had it not worked out the way that it did,” said Hawkins of his journey to the NFL. “So if I could go back, 100 times out of 100 I would do it the same way.”
So, in 2011, when Hawkins was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, his dreams were finally realized through his own hard work.
“I don’t care if you’re trying to make it to the NFL, become a police officer or a writer, whatever it is there are going to be obstacles,” said Hawkins. “There are going to be times when you lose things. … I would pray and I just felt if I kept working God would work the rest out.”
Now, after working so hard to get into the NFL, Hawkins has teams fighting over his services. Fans in Cleveland should be excited to see what else the little receiver from Toledo has in store.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to come in and be the spark they’re looking for, man,” Hawkins said. “Some things I’m good at is run after the catch and hopefully be a leader where I can bring everything I’ve done to this point in my career over to the Cleveland locker room.”
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