Twelve years before wide receiver Andrew Hawkins joined the New England Patriots, his older brother did the same.
Artrell Hawkins, a veteran defensive back by way of the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, signed with New England on Nov. 16, 2005 and went on to play in five games during the regular season and two games that postseason.
The corner-turned-safety started six of them next to Eugene Wilson in the absence of an injured Rodney Harrison. He recorded 24 tackles, one sack and a pass breakup before New England was eliminated in the divisional round against the Denver Broncos.
Hawkins would be back for the following campaign, and his return was notable. After all, the nine-year veteran was the corresponding move as the Patriots released linebacker Willie McGinest – the first pick of owner Robert Kraft’s era and a 2015 inductee into the franchise’s Hall of Fame – on March 9, 2006.
From there, Hawkins proceeded to start 12 of his 14 appearances during the 2006 regular season and all three of the Patriots’ playoff matchups. No. 25 notched 86 tackles, one sack, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery through the AFC Championship Game versus the Indianapolis Colts.
But that loss to Indianapolis would mark the end of his tenure. New England released Hawkins on Aug. 18, 2007, and despite a sixth-month stint with the New York Jets the following year, the former second-round selection had ultimately played his final NFL down in a Patriots uniform.
He announced his retirement on Aug. 1, 2008.
Artrell Hawkins’ younger brother, who went undrafted the same year he called it a career and is also nicknamed “Hawk,” isn’t yet at that juncture.
Andrew Hawkins is entering his seventh season after starting it with two Grey Cups as a member of the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound slot target is on his fourth NFL team now. He spent an offseason with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2011, and three years apiece with his sibling’s Bengals as well as the Cleveland Browns before announcing he’d signed with New England.
“It was all about winning for me at this point, and putting myself in the best position to do so,” the younger Hawkins, who recently graduated from Columbia University with his master’s, said Wednesday via Interrupted. “Nothing’s for sure. I got my work cut out for me. It’s an opportunity, and that’s how I’m approaching it. Going there and seeing how I stack up with the best, and try to earn my keep and prove my worth.”
It is unfamiliar territory for the wideout. He’s caught 209 passes for 2,419 yards and nine touchdowns in his 74-game NFL career. He’s played in only one game against the Patriots, and it transpired this past season as Cleveland played host on Oct. 9.
In what was a 33-13 Browns defeat, Hawkins caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Perhaps he will go on to catch his next pass for the Patriots instead of against them. Perhaps he won’t, given that the depth chart currently stands at 11.
For the time being, though, it’s a moment to appreciate. The 31-year-old Hawkins is back in the stomping grounds of his 40-year-old brother – just on the other side of the ball, and just over a decade later.