Two months ago, former Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins published a video via Uninterrupted to announce that his time on the open market had come to an end: The 31-year old had signed a free agency contract with the New England Patriots; a one-year deal that gave him the chance to compete for a roster spot with the team.
Today, Hawkins took to Uninterrupted to make another announcement - a rather surprising one: He is retiring after six years in the NFL.
I just got off the phone with the New England Patriots and head coach Belichick and had to inform them of my decision to retire and hang up the cleats. After OTAs and through summer training, my body just didn't respond and wasn't feeling the way it should going into camp for the defending world champions. Basically, it just started breaking down on me. It is what it is.
After going undrafted in 2009, Hawkins spent two years in the Canadian Football League before returning south to join the then-St. Louis Rams. He only lasted one summer with the team before getting waived and claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals, with whom he spent the next three seasons.
In Cincinnati, the 5’7, 180 lbs wideout appeared in 35 regular season games and three playoff contests and registered a combined 92 catches for 1,038 yards and four touchdowns. After the 2013 season, Hawkins joined the Cleveland Browns as a restricted free agent – and quickly made an impact.
The 2014 season was Hawkins’ best in the NFL: As the Browns’ leading receiver, he finished the year with 63 catches for 824 yards and a pair of scores. He failed to build on his success, though, and caught 60 more passes for 600 yards and three touchdowns over the next two years. Finally, in February, the Browns released the veteran.
In late May, finally, Hawkins signed with the Patriots. Given New England's wide receiver depth, Hawkins' chances of actually making the team did not look overly good. After all, there was only one spot potentially available, the one Danny Amendola held since 2013. Seeing Hawkins beat out one of quarterback Tom Brady's most trusted weapons would have been a big surprise – the odds were against him.
Consequently, Hawkins' retirement does not hurt the Patriots too much although it leaves the team with one fewer wide receivers under contract. As things currently stand, New England has nine wideouts signed. Seeing the team add another one – or/and free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers given a recent report that the two sides were in touch – would therefore not be a surprise.