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Jordan Akins eager to begin 'great opportunity' to reunite with Deshaun Watson

Akins acknowledged that he picked the Browns as a free agent so he could rekindle the ‘great chemistry’ he built with his former QB


Jordan Akins wanted to go somewhere he knew he'd be comfortable when he entered this offseason as a free agent, and picking a spot where he knew the quarterback well seemed to be his easiest option.

The Browns offered that with Deshaun Watson.

Akins knew all about Watson after playing with him his first three NFL seasons in Houston. He enjoyed catching passes thrown from his excellent arm, and he had seen himself how his sharp scrambling ability could extend plays and keep the offense on the field.

That familiarity made Akins feel at home the moment he visited Cleveland. 

"I can say yes to that," Akins said when asked if Watson's presence influenced his decision. "I was looking to be somewhere that I was wanted and had great team camaraderie. When I got here and I came to visit here, it was a perfect fit for me.

"And like I said, I'm reunited with Deshaun, and it's a good thing."

Check out the best photos from all the action at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as the Browns go through organized team activities

The Browns wanted to supply Watson with another big tight end who could do damage in the red zone, and Akins met the criteria even without the experience with his former teammate.

Akins, who's 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, is coming off his best season last year in Houston. He led the Texans with five touchdowns, three of which were scored from inside the 20-yard line, and his 495 receiving yards were his highest in a season since he was drafted by the Texans in the third round in 2018.

Watson was Akins' quarterback for the next three years. While Akins wasn't the featured tight end, he still contributed in big ways, catching 90 of 129 targets for 1,046 yards and three touchdowns in that span. 

"I want to pick up where we left off in Houston," he said. "Deshaun, we had great chemistry, and I like the way he plays the game. The play is always alive when he's on the field, and I love to play with a quarterback like that."

The Browns are looking to add more flavor to their pass game, which has best been exemplified by the speedy receiving additions of Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin and the selection of Cedric Tillman, a tall receiver from Tennessee, in the third round of the draft.

Akins believes he can help the Browns diversify their options, too, and is craving the chance to better display his skills in a different offense. 

"I feel like it's a great opportunity, being reunited with Deshaun and being able to get a different route tree," he said. "In Houston, I was kind of labeled as a catch and run tight end in the flat, but here I'm more down the field. I get to show off my athleticism, in and out of cuts and catch it after the run as well."

Akins' presence should help his other new teammates get used to playing with a QB of Watson's style. 

The Browns needed time last year to adjust to Watson's mobility in his six games, and those adjustments included receivers becoming accustomed to going off-script and getting open when Watson was scrambling. Blockers also needed to be more patient, too, and stick to their blocks longer to give Watson time to create more space.

Akins has been through those drills before with Watson and understands how reps will help everyone else learn how to navigate off-script plays.

"That's what OTAs is for, trying to get the rhythm down," he said. "We're trying to get the way he plays the game, and luckily I've been with him for three years, so I kind of know how to maneuver when he makes certain moves. But as a team, I think we'll be fine."

That's a lot easier for someone to say when they know who the quarterback is, too.

"It's a big help," he said. "Deshaun knows me. I know Deshaun."

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