The 2020 season was a strange one for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins.
A year after falling out of favor with former head coach Freddie Kitchens, Higgins returned to the Browns on a one-year contract for the veteran minimum. The season got off to a slow start, however, as Higgins was inactive for two of Cleveland’s first six games and was only targeted six times in that timespan.
His patience was rewarded, however, starting in Week 7 after the Browns lost wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a season-ending knee injury. Higgins caught six passes that day for 110 yards and went on to become part of a receiving group that embraced the next man up mantra for the rest of the season.
Higgins finished the regular season with 37 receptions, a career-high 599 receiving yards and four touchdowns, and added another seven receptions for 116 yards in the playoffs.
Higgins played a key role in Cleveland’s passing offense alongside Jarvis Landry, occupying the intermediate level of the field to make timely grabs in clutch moments down the stretch in the Browns’ run to the playoffs. From Week 8 to Week 17, Higgins gained 2.3 yards per route run, the 14th most among receivers with a minimum of 150 routes run. As a result of his increased involvement, the fifth-year pro posted a career season, catching 37 passes for 599 yards (16.2 yards per reception) and four touchdowns.
He was inches from a touchdown reception in a Divisional Round loss, and though his fumble cost the Browns a chance to score before the half against the Chiefs, it shouldn’t be what folks remember “Hollywood” for. Instead, they should think first of his timely catches and occasional walks down the end zone's red carpet.
Higgins is now one of 17 unrestricted free agents for the Browns, a team that currently has a substantial amount of money invested in Beckham and fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry. So while general manager Andrew Berry has said he wants to reach a point where free agency is about retaining the team’s core, it will be interesting to see if Higgins returns to the Browns for a sixth season, or if his “unsung hero” season will be his last in orange and brown.