Browns reach agreement to re-sign wide receiver Rashard Higgins
Rashard Higgins is returning to the Browns.
The popular wide receiver reached an agreement Wednesday night to re-sign with the Browns, two people familiar with the situation confirmed. The one-year deal is worth $2.38 million fully guaranteed, according to ESPN.
Higgins, the third-longest tenured Browns player, had become an unrestricted free agent when his contract expired at 4 p.m. Wednesday. But Browns General Manager Andrew Berry and Higgins made it known publicly in recent weeks they wanted to stay together.
They weren't kidding, either.
"Lets run it back !!!" Higgins wrote on Twitter after striking a new deal with the Browns. The tweet was in response to quarterback Baker Mayfield asking on the social media platform, "What are we doing Hig?!?"
A fan favorite whose nickname is "Hollywood," Higgins stepped up for the Browns in 2020 after star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 25 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Higgins had 37 catches on 52 targets for a career-high 599 yards and four touchdowns in 13 regular-season games, six of which he started. He added seven catches for 116 yards in two postseason games. He finished 48th among the 127 qualifying receivers ProFootballFocus.com graded last season.
The Browns drafted Higgins in the fifth round in 2016 out of Colorado State University. Only three-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio and long snapper Charley Hughlett have played for the franchise longer. Higgins, Bitonio and Hughlett are the only players still on the roster who endured the team's stretch of 1-31 from 2016-17.
Higgins hit the open market last offseason, too, but the duration was much shorter this time around. He appeared to be on his way out of town in 2020 until the Browns reached an agreement with him on a one-year, $910,000 contract in late April, about six weeks after free agency had kicked off. Berry had been the GM for about three months, but he was the club's vice president of player personnel when it drafted Higgins.
Last fall, Higgins said he had contract offers from other teams in 2020, but Mayfield convinced him to stay in Cleveland. The two have had undeniable chemistry on and off the field since the Browns drafted Mayfield first overall in 2018. When throwing the ball in the direction of Higgins, Mayfield had a passer rating of 126.1 this past season, according to PFF.
Higgins lobbied to return to the Browns again in recent months, telling beat writers Dec. 10 on Zoom, "I would love to be here." On Feb. 26, he doubled down during a radio interview with "The Next Level" on ESPN Cleveland WKNR (850-AM).
"Don't give up on me. I never gave up on y'all," Higgins said when "The Next Level" co-host Emmett Golden asked him what he wanted to tell Browns fans about his future. "Tell Andrew [Berry] to send the papers, and I'm signing wherever I've got to sign. That's all I've got to say."
Berry responded Dec. 3 in a Zoom with beat writers.
“I won’t touch on the specific dialogue that we’ve had, but I think suffice to say we’d like to have Rashard back,” Berry said. “It’s obvious he played a key role for us this past year, and we have a really positive history with him. But free agency can be difficult and obviously he’s earned the right to make the decision that’s most appropriate for him. And we’ll maintain consistently good communication with him and his reps, and we’ll see where it goes.”
It went the way Higgins, 26, wanted it to go.
The outcome means the Browns are positioned to run it back with a receiving corps of starters Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge, who received a restricted free agent tender from the club on Monday. Adding a speedster to the group will likely be something to watch in the April 29-May 1 draft.
Higgins has started 12 of the 67 regular-season games in which he's appeared with the Browns. He has 113 career catches on 178 targets for 1,615 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Higgins celebrates his touchdowns by pretending to walk the red carpet in the end zone. Now he'll have a chance to continue to strut in Cleveland.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.