The Cleveland Browns welcomed back a fan-favorite this offseason when unrestricted free agent wide receiver Rashard Higgins returned to the team on a one-year deal.
After a year where his production was nearly non-existent, Higgins did not draw a tremendous amount of interest on the open market. His deal with the Browns — the team who drafted him in the fifth-round in 2016 — 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.
It turns out that quarterback Baker Mayfield might have been responsible for convincing Higgins to return to run it back one more time. ESPN’s Jake Trotter reported this week that Mayfield spoke with Higgins multiple times the day before he decided to re-sign.
“I got to say, I was really surprised the way it went down,” Trotter said on Cleveland Browns Daily show. “I would have said for sure at the draft that Higgins was going to sign elsewhere. There hadn’t been a lot of contact between the team and Higgins representation and he had some offers elsewhere.
“I know for a fact, he talked to Baker twice in the 24 hours between when the offer was made and when he signed a contract. So that chemistry is still there,” Trotter added. “I think Baker was a major reason that Higgins decided to re-sign. There’s no reason why they can’t rekindle what they had a couple of years ago when they had that great chemistry on the field.”
Baker Mayfield, Rashard Higgins Looking for Bounce Back
Higgins was injured in the team’s opener last season, missing multiple weeks with an MCL sprain. He was never able to get on track after that, finding himself in former head coach Freddie Kitchen’s doghouse after some comments to media members on why he wasn’t on the field 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.
“I don’t know what happened last year,” Trotter added. “It’s kind of a mystery to me as well why he fell so far out of favor, especially given what else they had to play with at wide receiver late in the season.”
Mayfield is also looking for a return to the glory days of his rookie year. Mayfield finished the season with 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%). It was a far cry from his first year, when he set the rookie record for touchdown passes.
Rashard Higgins, Others Practiced With Baker Mayfield in Texas
Mayfield was eager to get going with his offseason training and assembled a group of his pass-catchers in his home state of Texas earlier this month. Higgins was among them, along with tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku.
“It felt really good to get around them, to start speaking the terminology and for some of these guys to just to be around each other,” Mayfield said. “I think that was a big thing for Hooper to be down here and be around some of the guys. A lot of them were here last year, but it was good for everybody to be around, speaking the same terminology and just kind of hanging out during all this.”
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