Higgins was an unrestricted free agent, but didn’t draw a tremendous amount of interest on the open market. His deal with the Browns was for the veteran’s minimum of $910,000. However, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported that Higgins turned down more money elsewhere to return to the Browns to play alongside Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry has made some big free agent signings since taking over this offseason and sees Higgins as a key signing to add depth to the wide receiver position, creating internal competition.
“I think he’s a talented young receiver. Has a really good rapport with Baker,” Berry told 92.3 The Fan on the signing Wednesday. “A reliably-handed pass catcher. We’ve always talked about adding competition, depth. This would be in the spirit (of that).”
Jarvis Landry Pumped to Have Rashard Higgins Back
Higgins is expected to compete for the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind Landry and Beckham — where he was expected to play last year before things went awry. Under former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, that role never truly played out and he was routinely out-snapped by Damion Ratley and KhaDarel Hodge down the stretch.
Higgins was injured in the team’s opener, missing multiple weeks with an MCL sprain. He was never able to get on track after that, finding himself in Kitchen’s doghouse after some comments to media members on why he wasn’t active in Week 5. Higgins managed just four catches for 55 yards and one touchdown all of last year.
In the year prior, Higgins had 39 catches for 572 yards and four touchdowns — all career highs. He also built a strong rapport Mayfield as a security blanket of sorts, with the quarterback speaking up at times about the chemistry he had with Higgins.
With Beckham and Landry attracting a ton of attention, a reliable third receiver has a chance to thrive in the offense and even take some pressure off the two stars if he’s good enough. Landry shared a celebratory Instagram post after the signing that said: “Run it Baaaacccccc.”
Browns Added Rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones in Draft
The returning wide receivers for the Browns include Beckham, Landry, Higgins, Damion Ratley, Taywan Taylor, KhaDarel Hodge, D.J. Montgomery and J’Mon Moore. The team added return man/wide receiver JoJo Natson in free agency and drafted Donovan Peoples-Jones in the sixth round of the draft.
“With Donovan, we got a player that has played outside and inside,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters in a post-draft conference call. “I think there is versatility with this player in terms of where you can play him in the formation. Having return ability and having a history in the return game helps. I do think he has the physical skillset to be a special teamer. There is a lot this kid can do. Then, it is going to be a matter of him showing it to us.”
Peoples-Jones, who has ton of athletic potential, is ecstatic about getting to work alongside Beckham and Landry — pass-catchers with eight Pro Bowls between them.
“Personally, I love competition. Personally I rise when the competition rises,” Peoples-Jones said. “Those are two of the best receivers in the NFL. I am so thankful for this opportunity to come to Cleveland. I really can not wait.”