This is the time of the year when news breaks of a specific player who is going to be, or was, released, and fans ask whether they would be a good fit for their team.
At this point in my career of covering the Pittsburgh Steelers, you get a feel for players they would like to target in free agency. For instance, they rarely target big name players, and look for a veteran who can come in and not only produce, but be an integral part of the team.
The perfect example of their style of free agent signing was when they brought in wide receiver Jericho Cotchery from the New York Jets. He wasn’t a no-name player, but would know his role and was able to leverage a tremendous stop in Pittsburgh into a big money contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Needless to say, when I saw this tweet below, I thought this is a player the Steelers might put in a call about.
We've released WR Andrew Hawkins— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) February 27, 2017
Details » https://t.co/B2S6xAPPeo pic.twitter.com/2Tpn3xhkxW
Andrew Hawkins might be undersized, 5-feet 7-inches 175-pounds, but his savvy veteran experience could help the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While most will read this and think, “We don’t need another undersized receiver, we need a player like Martavis Bryant to stretch the field!” you might want to also consider just how Cotchery made a living with the Steelers.
When teams were locking in on the various offensive weapons the Steelers deploy on offense, Cotchery was a red-zone beast, tallying double-digit touchdowns his final season in the Steel City. If there is one area of the field the Steelers could utilize another player who is known for his route running and precision, it would be the red-zone, and Hawkins could be a big help in that area.
When you look at Hawkins’ stats, you aren’t overwhelmed. He has been in the league for six seasons, three with the Cincinnati Bengals and three with the Cleveland Browns, and only once did he tally more than 600 yards receiving. The most touchdowns he has every had in a season is four, and he has only played in all 16 games once in his career.
But before you write off this idea, it is worth it to look at the teams he played for, and who he would be playing for if the Steelers were to reach out to him and make an offer.
There is a big difference in quarterback when comparing Andy Dalton and the numerous warm bodies thrown out by the Browns, and Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger makes receivers better, and could turn Hawkins into another legitimate threat in the team’s offense.
Speaking of the offense, after Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, there is a lot of uncertainty. Sammie Coates battled through injuries, but is still very much an unknown. Martavis Bryant has yet to be reinstated, and Ladarius Green’s health issues continue to be an ongoing saga.
Hawkins could be a solid addition, and not an expensive addition at that, for the Steelers in the 2017 season. Hawkins wouldn’t be handed a job, would have to compete with Eli Rogers, Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey for playing time, but Hawkins could be a very good option for the Steelers next season.
What do you say? Yay or nay on Hawkins being a viable option for the black and gold?