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Finding Free Agents: Rashard Higgins would fit as the Seahawks’ long-term third wide receiver

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In our 2020 iteration of Finding Free Agents, we’ll attempt to answer three questions for each player: Why would the Seahawks be interested? What would their contract look like? What is the likelihood they reach free agency? Throughout the series, we’ll be focused on specific positions of need in Seattle: Wide receiver, offensive line, defensive tackle and EDGE.

Rashard Higgins looked to be all set for a breakout 2019. In the previous season, Higgins thrived under then-OC Freddie Kitchens with Baker Mayfield, catching 39 balls for 562 yards and four touchdowns. With Odell Beckham added to the mix and Kitchens installed as head coach, the situation was right for Higgins to emerge as one of the league’s best number three wide receivers. Then, well, the 2019 Cleveland Browns happened. Higgins caught just four passes all season and feuded with coaches—he was even a healthy scratch at several points.

Higgins’ NFL low-point came at the worst time, in a contract season. Now, the 25-year-old will enter free agency in need of the right situation, in order to reset his promising career.

Why would the Seahawks be interested?

Ideally for Seattle, the third wide receiver in their offense would bring an ability to win contested catches, win over the middle in the short and intermediate areas, and bring outside-in flexibility. Hollywood Higgins checks all of those boxes. Over the last four seasons, Higgins has caught 88.4 percent of catchable passes thrown his way—and 92.9 in his strong 2018. Throughout 2018, Higgins was used in short and intermediate routes both to the sideline and across the middle. In three wide receiver sets, Higgins could shift inside and previously proved to be a dangerous threat up the seam when he did. His big frame up the seam would be a superb threat added to the Seahawks’ offense—it’s something Russell Wilson has missed among his pass catchers.

What would Higgins’ contract look like?

It’s difficult to have a worse contract year than Higgins, at least while staying healthy. The talented wide receiver will have every reason to seek a prove-it deal, as a strong season in a better situation would see him earn much more than he would on a long-term deal this spring. On a one-year deal, Higgins should be able to earn in the $3 million range, possibly with incentives, as well. For Seattle, this would present little risk—and if Higgins fit in and succeeded, a longer extension could be negotiated.

Will Higgins reach free agency?

In a report published Sunday, Mary Kay Cabot of reported the Browns would be interested in bringing Higgins back, at the right price, but not before he is allowed to reach free agency. Higgins has clear chemistry with Baker Mayfield and the offensive infrastructure is in place for the wideout to succeed there—with Kitchens gone—so perhaps he seeks a return after testing the market. If Higgins is open to a fresh start, however, he could find a great situation with the Seahawks and Wilson.