The Cleveland Browns need to rebuild their receiving corps in the offseason and the plan will likely not include veteran Rashard Higgins.
Higgins has had a tough season, going down as a healthy scratch at times this season and seeing his production nearly cut in half from a year ago. Higgins caught just 24 balls for 275 yards and one score. That was after a career year where he stepped up after an injury to Odell Beckham Jr., catching 37 balls for 599 yards and four scores.
Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com said that Higgins might have worn out his “red carpet” — a reference to his patented celebration — with the Browns and will likely be looking for a new home in the offseason.
Rashard Higgins, who sat out Sunday with an illness, seems like he’s worn out his red carpet here and probably won’t be back for a fifth season. That could always change, because Higgins always seems to survive, but being a healthy scratch in the first game against the Ravens wasn’t a good sign.
Higgins decided to re-sign with the Browns this offseason on a one-year, $2.37 million deal this offseason despite drawing interest from other teams. Higgins has struggled through some terrible years in Cleveland — including the 0-16 season in 2017. He was hoping to play a key role in leading the franchise to a Super Bowl.
Browns Felt Higgins was Reliable Target
A big plus for Higgins is his chemistry with Mayfield, which was part of the reason he decided to return.
“Sometimes I know when I line up and Baker gives me that look, I’m like, ‘OK. The ball’s coming to me, so I’ve got to get open on this play,’” Higgins said with a smile. “Me and Baker, we’ve got a good connection with each other. He’s my boy. We’re just out here playing backyard football at times.”
For what it’s worth, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt felt that Higgins was someone the team could rely upon.
“He is a guy who just shows up and makes the plays when they come to him for the most part. I know he and Bake have a really good feel for each other, especially when it comes onto the field,” Van Pelt told reporters in December. “I can see him stepping up here for us in the run here as we get down through these last few games of playing well. I do not know if it was anything he did during the course of the year that has not allowed him to be as productive, but I do know when his number is called, he makes plays for us.”
Jarvis Landry’s Future Also in Question
Higgins is not the only receiver who might not be back next season. The Browns also have to make a decision on Landry, whose 2022 salary is a whopping $16.55 million. The Browns could release Landry and have it result in just $1.3 million in dead cap space.
Landry is a leader for the Browns and helped shift the culture in Cleveland. However, his production has waned and he’s no longer an elite option in the NFL. Landry caught 52 balls for 570 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season, battling through knee injury that forced him to miss four games. He also missed a contest due to COVID-19.
There’s also the fact that his good friend Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer on the team, which could play a factor in whether or not he’d be willing to restructure to stay in Cleveland.