The NFL entered the third week of free agency on Monday and things are definitely starting to slow down.
That is especially true of the wide receiver market, which was never very robust to begin with this year. In the past few days, wide receivers Demarcus Robinson returned to the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal, and wide receiver Geronimo Allison signed with the Detroit Lions, also on a one-year deal.
Few markets were as brutal as the receiver market in free agency this year. This was the going rate for a bunch of them. A historically deep draft kept prices down but Allison — like many of them — gets another shot next year https://t.co/LX3sIat8EK— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 29, 2020
One familiar name still out there is wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who spent the past four seasons as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Expected to be a solid third option in the passing game in 2019, Higgins hurt his knee in the opening game, had issues with former head coach Freddie Kitchens, and rarely saw the field as the Browns went through a tumultuous season.
That led to Higgins not being able to build on the solid second half of the season he put together in 2018, as Pro Football Focus points out:
Rashard Higgins struggled mightily in his first two years in the league back in 2016 and 2017. He saw only 58 targets and produced a 58.5 receiving grade, the second-worst among wide receivers in that span. Higgins then came back in 2018, struggled once again to start out the year then things started to come around for a change in the post-Hue Jackson portion of the 2018 season as he owned a 71.4 receiving grade which ranked 35th in that stretch. Injuries then limited his 2019 campaign to only 10 targets, leaving him still as an unproven wide receiver.
It seemed like a lock that Higgins would go elsewhere in free agency once the season came to an end. There was even reported interest from the Buffalo Bills a few weeks back, but still nothing.
So could Higgins make a return to Cleveland, possibly on one of the one-year deals that have become so popular this offseason?
Now that the Browns have moved on from Kitchens, Higgins would presumably have a clean slate with the new coaching staff. And he did have the kind of chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2018 that was lacking with some of the wide receivers last season.
On the other hand, head coach Kevin Stefanski has a preference for using two tight ends in his offense, and with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry entrenched as the starter, and running back Kareem Hunt a threat in the passing game, the opportunities for a third wide receiver might be very limited.
Of course, it only takes one injury for a larger role to open up, and Higgins is arguably a far more attractive option than the other wide receivers currently on the roster, a group that includes KhaDarel Hodge, D.J. Montgomery, J’Mon Moore, Damion Ratley and Taywan Taylor.
It may not be the outcome that Higgins was envisioning when free agency opened a few weeks back, but given the current state of the wide receiver market, if the Browns are interested then an encore in Cleveland could end up being his best option.