Since his arrival in Cleveland, Odell Beckham Jr. and his quarterback, Baker Mayfield, haven’t exactly been on the same page. After establishing himself as a premier talent in New York, the three-time Pro Bowler has regressed into an afterthought in the Browns’ offense, collecting a grand total of 17 receptions, 232 yards, and zero touchdowns this season—and not producing much more than that since being traded to the Forest City in 2019.
While OBJ has been a model citizen this year despite his diva reputation, tensions between him and the team have been simmering all season as Mayfield continues to go game after game ignoring his deadliest weapon. On Tuesday, things took a surprising turn mere hours before the NFL’s trade deadline when a number of notable individuals publicly petitioned the Browns to trade the 28-year-old so he can unleash his generational talent elsewhere.
One was Cleveland’s own LeBron James, who committed the ultimate betrayal when he began a #FreeOBJ campaign on Twitter:
Another was Odell Beckham Sr., the LSU product’s own father, who took to Instagram to present his own damning evidence to the jury: an 11-minute clip highlighting the countless times his son was wide open and Mayfield didn’t throw him the ball.
In response to this social media assault, which OBJ has yet to publicly denounce, things got particularly contentious on Wednesday when Beckham showed up for practice only to be excused by his coach, Kevin Stefanski, for a “noninjury-related personal matter,” per USA Today. But here’s where things get even more interesting, because Stefanski reportedly told Beckham’s teammates that their star receiver is “essentially not on the team right now” and that Beckham has been told to stay home.
Add in the fact that Mayfield is apparently expecting some sort of apology from OBJ for something he never even did, and now we have a situation in which it’s very likely that Beckham has played his last game in a Browns uniform.
From USA Today:
Beckham’s agents and Browns general manager Andrew Berry are discussing options with the player’s future. Beckham is still due approximately $8 million guaranteed of the $15.75 million he’s making this year. If Beckham were released by the Browns and cleared waivers, he would become a free agent and be able to sign with any team. However, it wouldn’t be realistic for another franchise to pursue him until he cleared waivers because it would be on the hook for the $8 million.
It would be a complete shock if the Browns released him instead of seeking out assets in return via trade, but it’s clear that this Mayfield/Beckham pairing ain’t working. Despite Cleveland being a team that’s hurting to put points on the board, Stefanski remains committed to a conservative offensive devoid of big plays—and everything about OBJ screams big play ability. But should the eight-year NFL veteran become available, the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders are among the list of teams who are interested.
If the Browns decide not to release him, I find it hard to believe that they would just deactivate Beckham for the duration of the season. So the possibility, while remote, still exists that he could return to the team.
“If he’s back, then we’ll work through it and do whatever it takes,” Mayfield said on Wednesday. “I can put my ego and pride to the side to win because that’s all I care about. But if not, then we’ll roll with the guys we have out there, and those guys will know that I completely trust them and they’ll know that I’m always here for them. That’s the leader and that’s the type of quarterback I am.”
Shieeeeeeeeet, I guess we’re all about to find out.