In an interview on ESPN 850, Higgins talked about the prospect of staying with Cleveland — the only team he has known through the first five years of his career.
“We want to see when we can get this contract and stuff done,” he said. “Obviously if it’s not with the Browns — we want it to be with the Browns — but it’s up in the air right now.
“Listen, don’t give up on me. I never gave up on y’all,” Higgins added. “Tell Andrew [Berry] to send the papers and I’m signing wherever I’ve got to sign.”
The comments from Higgins caught the attention of fellow Browns wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, who had a simple, yet powerful response.
“Pay the man,” wrote Hodge, who is a restricted free agent.
Rashard Higgins Has Built Up Credibility With Browns
Higgins is due for a payday after proving himself as a reliable pass-catching option in the NFL. Higgins bet on himself last offseason, signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Browns after a down year, reportedly turning down more money elsewhere.
Higgins responded with a career-year, taking advantage of some injuries — specifically to Odell Beckham Jr. — climbing up the depth chart and eventually assuming a starting role.
Higgins notched 37 catches for 599 yards and four touchdowns. He also managed 16.2 yards per reception — a career-high — and was a solid producer in the postseason.
The 26-year-old Higgins isn’t the most physically gifted player in the Browns receiver room but has a great relationship with quarterback Baker Mayfield, who had a 126.1 rating when targeting Higgins last season, per cleveland.com. That was the highest on the team.
Browns & Higgins Reportedly Had Talks on Extension
The Browns and Higgins have reportedly been working on an extension for quite some time, dating back to late last season. Higgins’ reps were having talks with the team in December about a new deal, per Josina Anderson.
“My understanding is preliminary discussions have already begun between the Browns and WR Rashard Higgins on a contract extension,” Anderson said on Twitter.
Obviously, a deal never got done between Higgins and the Browns, but that does not mean all hope is lost. Cleveland has plenty of cap room to work with and could get creative to fit Higgins in.
That being said, Cleveland has more than $30 million already invested at receiver in Jarvis Landry and Beckham next season, unless they can convince one — or both — to restructure their deals. And the emergence of rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones could make the Browns think twice about bringing Higgins back.
Higgins could also decide to seek a larger role on a new team, knowing he’ll automatically be behind Beckham and Landry on the depth chart in Cleveland. He has an estimated market value of $6.1 million per year, per Spotrac.