Browns Closing in on Deal to Reunite Deshaun Watson With Texans Teammate

Jordan Akins

Getty Jordan Akins of the Houston Texans celebrates a touchdown.

The Cleveland Browns hosted free agent tight end Jordan Akins for a visit on Friday and appear close to inking him to a deal.

Akins has spent his entire career with the Houston Texans and previously played with Deshaun Watson. Akins has 151 catches for 1,755 yards and eight touchdowns in his career and is coming off his best year as a pro. Despite the Texans’ unstable quarterback situation, Akins caught 37 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Akins posted an overall grade of 72.4 with Pro Football Focus, excelling as a receiver (74.3) but also showing an ability to block (61.3). The Browns are shifting away from being so reliant on tight ends but Akins would make a lot of sense to pair with David Njoku.

“Browns visit with Texans free agent tight end Jordan Akins going very well, per a league source,” Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston tweeted. “Akins is a strong fit for their offense and already has great chemistry with Deshaun Watson.”

Akins spent four seasons with Watson as his quarterback. Akins’ market value is around $2.6 million per year, per Spotrac. It’d be a solid signing for the Browns around that number, giving some competition for the second tight end spot for Harrison Bryant.

Browns Pleased With Watson’s Development

Watson showed some very visible rust after almost two years away from the game last season, so adding a target he’s familiar with would be a plus for the Browns.

Watson played the final six games for the Browns after an 11-game suspension, with the team going 3-3. Watson — who led the league in passing yards in 2020 — showed glimpses of his Pro Bowl form but completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

While the Browns ultimately missed the postseason, EVP and general manager Andrew Berry said the team is “pleased” with Watson after making the blockbuster move for him a year ago.

“I will say that we are pleased with where Deshaun is, pleased with the progress he has made since he has been with us and certainly anticipate him having a very strong year on and off the field going into 2023,” Berry said.

Nick Chubb and the ground game have been the staple of the Browns’ offense recently. However, Cleveland is expected to rely more heavily on Watson next season, per Matthew Berry of NBC Sports.

“Cleveland’s offense is going to be really interesting next year. Look for the Browns to add a speed wide receiver this off-season to go with Amari Cooper. One source told me ‘They are really going to open up the offense. Go five wide. Pass a lot. This is going to be Deshaun Watson’s offense, not Nick Chubb’s. They will pass a lot more than folks expect,’” Berry reported.

Browns Have Focused on Defense With Free Agent Signings

The Browns have made some moves in free agency but have focused on the defensive side of the ball, bringing in veteran defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, pass-rusher Ogbo Okoronkwo and free safety Juan Thornhill as future starters.

Along with adding some depth at tight end, the Browns are in the market for a speedy receiver to pair with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones in the passing game. Free agent players like DJ Chark and Mecole Hardman have been floated as potential options to fill that role.

The Browns also have second-year receiver David Bell on the roster and could give speedster Anthony Schwartz one more chance to make an impact.

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