CLEVELAND — Andrew Hawkins gave the Cleveland Browns experience and leadership.
They’ll have to find it elsewhere.
The team cut ties with the veteran wide receiver on Monday, terminating his contract after three seasons and leaving the Browns without one of their most respected players.
Hawkins, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent in 2014 after three years with Cincinnati, released a video in which he thanked Cleveland’s fans and owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, and wished his teammates well.
“It was a tough call,” said Hawkins, who announced he was leaving the Browns on the Uninterrupted’s Twitter account. “Just felt like it was in the best interest of all that we move on.”
Hawkins, who will be 31 in March, was due to make $1.8 million in 2017, the final year of his contract.
He made 33 catches for 324 yards and scored three touchdowns last season as the Browns went 1-15 under first-year coach Hue Jackson. But Hawkins’ contributions went beyond the field as he helped mentor Cleveland’s young receiving corps, which included rookie Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor. Hawkins was also heavily involved in community activities.
“It’s tough to say goodbye to men like Hawk, that have done everything you’ve asked of them and gone above and beyond when it comes to leadership,” said Jackson, who also worked with Hawkins in Cincinnati. “Hawk was a rock for us last season. He kept our locker room together and led by example as he gave everything he had on the field. Our young players are going to be better players and better people because of the time they spent with Andrew Hawkins.”
At just 5-foot-7, Hawkins found success in a sport ruled by much larger men. Hawkins played in 39 games with Cleveland, recording 123 catches for 1,424 yards and five TDs.
Hawkins, too, was civic minded, always willing to speak out on topics ranging from race relations to drug abuse. Hawkins and former Browns quarterback Josh McCown met in Washington last season with members of Congress to discuss social justice reform.