Patriots WR Hawkins retires, pledges brain to research

New England Patriots wide receiver Andrew Hawkins says he is retiring from the NFL and donating his brain to research after six years in the league.
Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins walks to the practice field at the New England Patriots-organized team activity held on the practice field at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on June 13, 2017.

Receiver Andrew Hawkins says he is retiring from the National Football League and donating his brain to research.

The six-year NFL veteran signed with the New England Patriots in May as a free agent. But he said in a video on that his body isn't responding as he prepared for training camp.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation says Hawkins has pledged his brain for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The degenerative disease is known to cause cognitive and behavioral problems in athletes, members of the military and others who sustained repeated head trauma.

The 31-year-old undrafted free agent out of Toledo played three seasons each with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. In 2014 he had career highs of 63 catches and 824 yards. He also helped the Montreal Alouettes win back-to-back Grey Cup championships in the Canadian Football League.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La'el Collins has signed a two-year contract extension worth up to US$17.4 million, earning a payday that eluded him when a police investigation kept him from getting drafted two years ago.

Collins, who will get US$9.5 million in guaranteed money, was considered a first-round talent out of LSU in 2015 but wasn't selected after his name surfaced in the probe of a woman's death just before the NFL draft. He was soon cleared, and chose the Cowboys in free agency on a fully guaranteed US$1.5 million, three-year deal.

The agreement on Tuesday came a day before Collins' 24th birthday, and he said the contract "means a lot to me and my family in so many ways".

Collins is expected to replace the retiring Doug Free at right tackle after starting 14 of 15 games at left guard in his first two seasons. He missed the last 13 games last season with a toe injury.

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