The Browns released veteran receiver Andrew Hawkins Monday.
Hawkins made the announcement via ‘Uninterrupted’ moments before the team made the move public.
“As of today, I am officially a former Cleveland Brown,” Hawkins said in a nearly 2-minute long video.
Hawkins said that he flew to Cleveland last week to meet with team officials where they mutually decided it was best for both sides to move on.
“I would like to thank the Cleveland Browns for not only understanding my situation and where I am at in my career but more importantly giving me the opportunity to wear the storied orange and brown over the last 3 seasons,” Hawkins continued. “We didn’t have the success that we hoped for but at the same time I’m confident we laid the ground work for a bright future.”
Last season Hawkins caught 33 passes for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns. In 3 seasons in Cleveland he totaled 123 receptions for 1,424 yards with 5 touchdowns in 39 games that saw the Browns win just 11 games.
“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,” head coach Hue Jackson said in a statement. “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.”
Hawkins praised Jackson and also had a message for frustrated Browns fans who have grown tired of the franchise residing at the bottom of the NFL standings every season.
“Be optimistic because Hue Jackson is one of the best coaches in all of football,” Hawkins said. “He’s changing the culture there on a daily basis.”
In the video Hawkins thanked Jackson, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, his teammates as well as the fans.
In his 3 years with the Browns, Hawkins was vocal when it came to social issues.
Hawkins drew criticism on Dec. 15, 2014 when he ran slowly out of the tunnel wearing a black t-shirt over his uniform that read: “Justice for Tamir Rice – John Crawford” on the front and “The Real Battle of Ohio” on the back prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals to call attention to their shooting deaths by police.
He backed 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of several police shootings of unarmed African-American men around the country and in November joined 4 other NFL players on Capital Hill where they met with congressional leaders to discuss social justice reform.
“[Hawkins] was an outstanding example to our young players both on and off the field,” Brown said. “The well-intended work he did in the Cleveland community was greatly appreciated and the respect he earned throughout our league for never being afraid to responsibly create an educated dialogue around a societal issue is commendable.
“I’m not sure where Andrew’s next stop will be but his history shows that whatever he sets his mind to accomplish, success is sure to follow.”
With Terrelle Pryor currently unsigned, the Browns do not have a single receiver on the roster with more than a full season of NFL experience.
“It’s bittersweet because I’m going to miss all of the guys and everything but at the same time I’m excited for what the future holds,” Hawkins said.