Yesterday, I wrote that the Cleveland Browns and Odell Beckham jr. relationship can absolutely be salvaged, but Beckham’s father sharing that 11-minute video is a problem if the post is a frustrated father speaking for his son, who is also frustrated with his current situation.
Either Beckham is very much frustrated in Cleveland halfway through the worst season of his career, punctuated by one catch on one target for six yards in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, or Mayfield and the Browns are deep in their feeling about the video because it’s beginning to look like Beckham will not play for them season. Sports Illustrated’s Michael Silver is reporting that Beckham was told to stay home and is “essentially not on the team right now.”
Beckham’s past blow ups might lead one to assume that he pulled a Ben Simmons and that’s why he was told not to come to practice on Wednesday. That is not the case according to Silver, who has been told that Beckham has not been a problem in the locker and “has handled everything well.
If this is where the Browns are with Beckham, then the question must be asked: Why didn’t they trade him?
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that the Browns took calls on Beckham but didn’t like any of the offers. ESPN’s Kimberley Martin reported that the New Orleans Saints had discussions with the Browns about a Beckham trade. If the offers weren’t satisfactory, the Browns should have countered and worked until they found a deal with a team that needs a No. 1 receiver. Now the trade deadline has passed and the only options are to waive Beckham, deactivate him for the remainder of the season and try again to trade him going into the draft, or release him and save $15 million on the salary cap next season. None of these options help the team at all this season.
Unless you’re the New England Patriots from 2001-18, championship windows close swiftly in the NFL. The last time the Browns had one was in the mid 1980s. This team has enough talent to win now, even with Mayfield playing with a banged up shoulder. A 4-4 record does not mean the playoffs are completely out of reach. Injuries have taken a toll on the team all year, but players are beginning to return. Both of their starting offensive tackles played together for the first time since Week 4 on Sunday, running back Nick Chubb also returned from injury on Sunday, and cornerback Denzel Ward should be back soon from his hamstring injury.
Not only could the Browns grab a wild-card spot, but the division is still in reach. They’re only 2.5 games behind the Baltimore Ravens, who, in their last appearance, got mauled by the Cincinnati Bengals.
If Beckham doesn’t want to be in Cleveland anymore, or the Browns want to move on from him, or both, this should’ve been done by the trade deadline. Even if the only offers were some late round picks they needed to get to something. Hell, if they wanted to drive the price up, show the Saints that video Beckham’s father shared. The Browns could’ve said, “Hey, it’s not his fault we don’t know how to use him. I’m sure an offensive genius coach like you all have with Sean Payton could figure out some way to take advantage of the missed opportunities highlighted in this video.”
If the Browns want to give the Saints, the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams a No. 1 wide receiver as they make their postseason runs, any one of those teams and many more will accept Beckham with open arms. But for the Browns, if Beckham is “essentially not on the team right now,” then he shouldn’t have been on the team after 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday.