Monday, March 18, 2002

Hawkins re-signs for 3 years

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Bengals made their first significant offseason move Sunday when they reached agreement on a three-year deal with starting cornerback Artrell Hawkins. The four-year veteran, who tied for the team lead with three interceptions last season, signed the contract Monday.

        An unrestricted free agent, Hawkins had received offers from Pittsburgh, Oakland and Minnesota.

        The Bengals' interest in Hawkins apparently heated up as the result of the other offers.

        “It was one of our priorities,” said Bengals scouting di rector Duke Tobin, who negotiated the contract with agent Donald Yee Saturday and Sunday. “We wanted to maintain some of the continuity in the defense.”

        The Bengals' defense finished the 2001 season ranked ninth in the NFL in yards allowed. Hawkins started 13 games but missed time with a right ankle sprain and a shoulder bruise. He had 71 tackles, broke up eight passes and forced two fumbles.

        It was Hawkins' best NFL season, and he credited first-year cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle for his improved play.

        “He's young. He's dependable. He's a hard worker,” Tobin said of Hawkins, 25, the Bengals' second-round draft pick from the University of Cincinnati in 1998. “The big thing is we were the right fit for him and he was the right fit for us.”

        Terms of the contract were not available, but Tobin said the amount wouldn't prevent the Bengals from pursuing other free agents.

        Colts free agent cornerback Jeff Burris is supposed to visit the Bengals this week.


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