For more than a year, talk of Odell Beckham’s miscasting in Cleveland was never actually acknowledged by either the team or the star wide receiver. Now? It’s suddenly a foregone conclusion that Beckham’s pairing with the Browns has not worked and, more importantly, will not ever work. In the wake of his father publicly slamming quarterback Baker Mayfield, and Beckham himself officially requesting a trade prior to Tuesday’s deadline, per Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, the two sides are finally working toward a split.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirmed that the Cleveland Browns plan to release the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver as early as Friday. The two sides have been negotiating to turn his remaining $8 million salary into a base salary, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson, which would make it easier for another team to claim him.
Mayfield and coach Kevin Stefanski have long supported Beckham’s presence on the team, but with the latter now voicing displeasure behind closed doors — and, apparently, through ancillary sources like his father, or Cleveland sports legend LeBron James — his days in a Browns uniform appear to be through.
With that in mind, where could Beckham end up in the event he’s waived and/or ends up as a street free agent? Here are some potential landing spots:
Adding a disgruntled and pricey wideout who’s going on 29 doesn’t really mesh with a franchise playing the long game, but the Eagles are flush with cap space, could cut Beckham at no penalty after 2021 and, most of all, could use a more proven starter opposite DeVonta Smith. General manager Howie Roseman likes to make a splash, coach Nick Sirianni is a WRs guy, and maybe they could talk themselves into a half-season rental, with the idea of potentially stashing a playmaker for the next QB?
Beckham doesn’t necessarily feel like a culture fit here, but at 3-5, with T.Y. Hilton perpetually banged up, they could really use another weapon for Carson Wentz as they try to stay alive in the AFC South. As long as Wentz is under center, their focus will be to win now. And OBJ would get his fair share of targets opposite Michael Pittman
They’ve dealt with different forms of Aaron Rodgers drama all year, so we’re not sure they’d welcome another potential headache. But if Rodgers is running the show, why not? Davante Adams is the clear No. 1, but Beckham would properly relegate Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb to secondary roles, giving Green Bay a major one-two punch out wide for a title run.
How spicy would this be? Dallas doesn’t need WR help, with Dak Prescott comfortably in the MVP conversation thanks to help from CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. OBJ also wouldn’t necessarily get an abundance of work in such a crowded room. But Michael Gallup has been banged up, and Jerry Jones could view this like an Antonio Brown-to-the-Buccaneers kind of move: a luxury addition to a Super Bowl-caliber lineup. As for Odell, what could be better than getting the America’s Team stage before a potential return to free agency, and maybe getting another shot at the Giants along the way?
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Baltimore has gotten No. 1 WR production from Marquise Brown, and they’re capable of making a run as is. But Beckham would easily make for an upgrade on the other side, taking pressure off Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman to stay healthy. Lamar Jackson’s off-script style might not always gel with Odell, but the latter would also get to stick it to Cleveland by staying in the North.
San Francisco has quietly slipped out of the limelight in recent weeks, but fresh off a promising win with Jimmy Garoppolo, they could be itching to catapult themselves back into the NFC West conversation. They fell in love with Beckham before, exploring a trade for the former Giants star, and haven’t trusted Brandon Aiyuk all year. He’d be an easy upgrade over Mohamed Sanu opposite Deebo Samuel.
Their offensive problems aren’t solely or primarily stemming from a lack of talent, but one way to help Patrick Mahomes settle down might be giving him yet another big-play outlet. Beckham would be playing second fiddle to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, perhaps, but K.C. throws it so much that he’d still see a bump in action. The Chiefs, remember, sniffed around WR additions prior to this season.
The Raiders have been burned by splashy moves for troubled WRs before (see: Brown, Antonio; Bryant, Martavis), but Mike Mayock is all in on a playoff run this year, even with all the outside controversy of this season. With Henry Ruggs III suddenly out of the picture, they could really use WR help to stay out front in the AFC West. Derek Carr would surely work hard to get OBJ his targets.
No one takes more chances on discarded big-name veterans than New England, and the Patriots can also promise him a decent role, with Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor best suited for complementary spots. The Patriot Way may or may not be a long-term match, but with the team hanging around in the AFC East, they have reason to gamble to help out Mac Jones. As a bonus, front-office consultant Eliot Wolf was the Browns’ assistant GM when Cleveland traded for Beckham back in 2019.
They reportedly discussed a trade for Beckham prior to the deadline, so it’s obvious they’re interested. With Michael Thomas now out for the year, they desperately need WR help, and even more so with Jameis Winston also sidelined for good. Beckham might not salivate at the thought of catching passes from Trevor Siemian or Taysom Hill, but he’s from the area and would instantly become WR1 again — likely with a chance to return to the market in 2022.