During each NFL offseason, fans speculate which next big star will be traded and this offseason is no different. Many people believe that the Cleveland Browns could trade Odell Beckham Jr., the former All-Pro wideout who is known for his bombastic personality and his one-handed catch from 2014 which astonished many NFL fans.
At first, trading Odell may seem like a bad move for Cleveland. He had over 1,300 yards in each of his first three seasons. He also caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards in 2019. Before injuries sidetracked his career, Odell was considered one of the league’s best receivers and there isn’t a reason why he shouldn’t return to that status. However, there are a couple of glaring reasons why the Browns could want to deal Odell.
For one, Baker Mayfield looks worse with Odell on the field. Baker Mayfield had an impressive rookie season in 2018 and after the Browns traded for Odell, it seemed like the sky was the limit for Baker. However, the complete opposite happened. Mayfield regressed and the Browns, who were once thought to be Super Bowl contenders, finished 6-10. When Odell got hurt in 2020, Baker elevated his game, leading Cleveland back to the playoffs for the first time since 2o02. The bottom line is, Baker Mayfield is more comfortable when Odell isn’t on the field and if the Browns had to choose between them, they’ll definitely choose their franchise quarterback.
Another reason why the Browns could deal Odell is for cap reasons. In 2021, Odell’s cap hit is 15.7M, the current most on the team. Due to the pandemic, the NFL’s salary cap dropped from 198.2 million to 182.5 million. In a year with deflated cap space, the Browns could look to move Odell to free up some space for a big move that could put them over the top.
If the Browns were to trade Odell, there would be many teams interested in his services. The team that makes the most sense is the Green Bay Packers. Last offseason, they opted to controversially draft Jordan Love over a talented pass catcher. By trading for Odell, the Packers would be equipping reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, with another extremely talented weapon for 2021 and beyond. Odell and Davante Adams would also instantly become the league’s best receiving duo in the league. This move would make sense for Cleveland as they would be trading Odell out of the AFC and not have to deal with the deal affecting them tremendously.
Another landing spot that makes sense is the New England Patriots. The Patriots finished with a disappointing 6-10 record after being coined as sneaky playoff contenders after being Super Bowl contenders for nearly two decades. Cam Newton underperformed and one of the biggest reasons for that was his weak supporting cast. Tom Brady also suffered from this in 2019 and it could’ve played a factor in why he left New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Assuming Newton is still the starting QB for the Patriots is in 2021, they’ll want to surround him with a talented pass catcher like Odell, especially after a season as abysmal as Newton’s last year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have plenty of cap space to acquire Beckham Jr. They’ll want to surround presumable starting Quarterback Trevor Lawrence with as much talent as possible. A WR core of Odell Beckham, DJ Chark, and Laviska Shenault would give Lawrence lots of talent to work with. Out of all the landing spots on this list, Jacksonville would probably be the most intriguing option for both Odell and the Browns. The Jaguars could give Cleveland the best return and Odell would be able to play under Urban Meyer with Trevor Lawrence in a team full of promise.
Odell Beckham was once regarded as one of the best Wide Receivers in the game, but injuries have derailed him. If he can stay healthy, he should return to that status. Though many thought he would be a great fit in Cleveland, especially with a young QB in Baker Mayfield and playing with his former college teammate Jarvis Landry, it seems that it is best they go their separate ways. Regardless of what happens, the Odell trade rumors will be closely watched by everyone in the NFL world!
Photo: Ken Blaze