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Andrew Hawkins tells Patriots, reporters he’s retired from the NFL

The longtime Bengals and Browns wideout had signed with the Patriots this offseason.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots won’t have the services of slot receiver Andrew Hawkins this season after all. Months after signing with the reigning NFL champions, the six-year veteran told the team and The Uninterrupted Tuesday he will retire from the sport.

"After OTAs and through the summer training, my body just didn't respond and wasn't feeling the way that it should going into camp,” the 31-year-old Hawkins said.

Hawkins spent most of his football career — from college to the pros — in the state of Ohio. He played both wide receiver and cornerback at the University of Toledo, but his inability to master one position and diminutive frame (5’7) kept him from finding a spot in the NFL immediately out of college. Instead, he played his first two pro seasons in the Canadian Football League, where he won a pair of Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes.

His success in the Great White North led him back stateside, where after failing to catch on with the Rams he was welcomed back to Ohio. He spent three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and emerged as a reliable slot option before the Cleveland Browns signed him away on a four-year, $13.6 million deal.

His first season as a starter was his finest, as Hawkins rolled up 63 receptions and 824 receiving yards to set career highs. Two more solid years followed before asking for — and receiving — his release this offseason. The move was mutually beneficial. The Browns saved $1.8 million in cap space in the process, while Hawkins was free to pursue a role on a contender after having failed to win a playoff game in his previous six seasons.

Hawkins made sure to thank both fans once he announced his retirement.

“Cincinnati will forever be home and I will be a Bengal until the day I’m gone. THANK YOU CINCINNATI, the pleasure was all mine,” he wrote in a letter published by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

His letter to Browns fans was similarly heartfelt:

“My time as a Brown was some of the best of my life and I have never experienced such passion from fans in my life. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the unwavering support Cleveland fans showed us through the ups and downs, but I knew it was special to be a part of.”

The explosive wideout languished on the free agent market for a while, but for a good reason — he was finishing up his master’s degree at Columbia University at the time. He eventually caught on with New England.

“In Cleveland, I said it was about joining a contender. The Patriots are THE contender,” Hawkins said on the day of his signing. “You get the opportunity to play with the best quarterback and the best coach in NFL history.”

However, he’ll retire from the game before ever playing a down for the club. Hawkins would have had a tough time cracking the roster for a Patriots team that may have its deepest receiving corps of all time. New England added Brandin Cooks and undrafted free agents Austin Carr and Cody Hollister to a roster that already included established playmakers like Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Danny Amendola.

Hawkins will end his career with 209 total receptions and 2,419 receiving yards. In his retirement video, he said he was starting the process of earning a Ph.D. in business and economics.