Deshaun Watson Sends Strong Message to Browns Front Office

Tee Higgins is at the top of the free agent wish list for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Higgins will be a free agent this offseason and he will have suitors after a strong four years with the Cincinnati Bengals. In that time, he caught 257 passes for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns, going over 1,000 yards in two seasons.

Higgins was a topic of conversation on Watson’s podcast “QB Unplugged” and the Browns star made a public plea for him to sign with Cleveland.

“You know what’s up with us man. I know you are down to roll. We want to pass the ball and are going to pass it a lot,” Watson said on the episode, which went live on January 26. “We are going to take care of you. The Cleveland fans will love you to death and we have the Clemson ties. We didn’t get to play with each other but this is our opportunity. Come on over to The Land.”

It’s a message to Cleveland’s front office that Watson wants more weapons. The Browns already have Pro Bowler Amari Cooper as their top pass-catcher but could use a reliable threat like Higgins to beef up their attack.

Watson is expected back for training camp after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He’s appeared in just 12 games with the Browns since being acquired via a blockbuster trade in 2022.

Watson made a similar comment on acquiring DeAndre Hopkins last offseason. Hopkins instead signed with the Tennessee Titans.

Browns Prying Tee Higgins From Bengals Will be Tough

Getty ImagesThe Browns may have a hard time luring Tee Higgins from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Higgins will be a free agent but prying him from Cincinnati might be a tall task. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said he expects Higgins back next season.

“Obviously, we’d love to have Tee back,” Burrow said. “He’s a big part of what we’ve done here. And there’s no secret (with) our relationship, so I expect Tee to be back. I think that’s the sentiment in the locker room. We all want Tee back, we know what kind of player he is, what kind of person he is. He’s what being a Bengal is all about.”

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor also expressed that he hopes Higgins sticks around to play alongside Ja’Marr Chase.

“It’s hard to imagine life without Tee Higgins. Those are all conversations we’ll continue to have upstairs. Tee and I talked and I have no information on that. Those are things that evolve,” Taylor said. “Tee is a big part of what we’re doing and it would be hard for him to imagine not being here.”

Browns Have to Work With Limited Cap Space

Getty ImagesThe Browns have some work to do with their cap space if they want to sign Tee Higgins.

The Browns will have to do some magic with their cap space if they hope to sign Higgins. Spotrac estimates that his market value for a contract is four years and $74.4 million. That’d put him at around $18.6 million per season, which might not be a luxury the Browns can afford. The Bengals will also have the opportunity to hit him with the franchise tag and take him off the market.

Cleveland will have to restructure some deals, particularly with Watson. He’s currently set to count nearly $64 million against the cap. Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper are other players the Browns could target with restructured deals to make room.

“As we look at the contract management space, it’s not something that we think about just at the time or one year at a time,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said on January 22. “It’s something that you really do spend multiple years planning for. That’s an area that we’re very confident in, and we view it as a strategic advantage for us and we’ll continue to operate in a way that allows us to maximize the team.”

If Watson wants a few new weapons to work with, like Higgins, the Browns have some work to do.

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