The Cleveland Browns signed former Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins on Saturday — a move that delighted quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Akins and Watson were teammates for three seasons with the Texans and now will get to combine forces on the Browns. Watson expressed his feelings on the move with a two-word Instagram post once it was announced.
“We back!” Watson posted, along with a fan-made photo of the two wearing Browns uniforms.
Akins is also happy for a fresh start with the Browns after going through some tough seasons in Houston.
“New beginnings, same goal just different threads. Cleveland it’s up,” Akins wrote in the caption.
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.
He’s a significant red zone threat at 6-foot-4 and is a nice addition for the Browns, who were looking to make some competition at the second tight end spot behind David Njoku.
Akins’ deal with the Browns is for two years and worth $3.9 million, per Spotrac.
Familiarity Should Help Watson Take Next Step
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.
Some rust was expected from Watson, who had spent 700 days on the sideline between starts. He acknowledged that rust after his first start, which came against his former team.
“I’ll just say I felt every one of those 700 days,” Watson said.
Watson knows he can be better but is confident that with a full offseason and no suspension looming that he can turn things around.
“We are going to have a man to man conversation. Nothing negative or anything like that, but just what can we do to be better offensively and as a team,” Watson said at the end of the season. “My next step in taking this team and taking that leadership role is really stepping out there and really taking this whole locker room under my wings. I am looking forward to that.”
Browns Will Rely More on Passing Game
The Browns went all-in on their move for Watson last offseason, giving up a haul of picks — including three first-rounders — also giving their new QB a massive $230 million full-guaranteed deal.
While the Browns have ridden their running game with Nick Chubb and run a ton of multiple tight end sets, that could change next season in Year 2 of Watson.
“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,” Matthew Berry of NBC Sports reported at the combine. “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.”
The Browns have done some good work in free agency, but mostly on the defensive side of the ball. They’re still in need of that speed in their wide receiver corps, with names like DJ Chark and Odell Beckham Jr. emerging as targets.