As more details come out about the deal the Browns offered Andrew Hawkins, more people start to question whether the Bengals will actually match the offer sheet. Josh Kirkpatrick of the Dayton Daily News reported,
“Cincinnati now has until Tuesday to match a four-year deal worth $13.6 million, with $10.8 million in the first two years. The cap hit is $5.8 million and $5 million in 2014 and 2015 respectively.”
The issue for the Bengals isn’t the amount broken down over the total contract, but a heavy cap hit up front that could hinder what they do over the next two years with their own free agents, like AJ Green, Andy Dalton, and Vontaze Burfict.
Hawkins is a valuable asset to this team with his speed and agility, but they are very deep at wide receiver. Although the latter end of his contract, at this point, is cap friendly, we have seen many players recently hold out for better contracts and more money, especially if they perform well in the front end of the deal.
This is one of the few free agent battles that the Bengals can afford to lose and not have too much fall back on them. Their depth includes AJ Green, Mohammed Sanu, Marvin Jones, and the recently re-signed Brandon Tate. It will be interesting to see what this may mean come draft day in May.