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Has OBJ played his last game with the Browns?

Currently, the injured receiver is under contract through 2023

NFL: OCT 25 Browns at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Odell Beckham, Jr. will have surgery on his injured knee November 10. He became hurt on the very first play against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. After an overthrown Baker Mayfield pass intended for OBJ was intercepted, the ensuing chase ended with the talented receiver injured in a pile-up surrounding the tackle.

The 28-year old receiver will miss the remainder of this season while rehabbing on IR with an ACL tear.

In a year where it appears likely the Browns will make the post-season, OBJ’s talents are sorely needed in a passing game that has struggled to find a rhythm. The injury will in all likelihood take a full year to recover. The timeline for his return would place him coming back somewhere close to mid-season in 2021.

After the injury occurred and subsequently being placed on the IR list, almost instantly Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggested that he has been told that OBJ is done in Cleveland.

By the terms of OBJ’s contract, the Browns cannot cut him - nor would they want to. He still has trade value. He still has playing value. He is still a Cleveland Brown.

Rapoport does not give any specific explanation as to where he came up with this idea. To simply release OBJ, the cap ramifications alone would be foolish.

Rapoport stated:

“Odell Beckham, Jr. is out for the season with a torn ACL. My understanding is that there’s a very real possibility that he has played his final game with the Cleveland Browns. Based on his contract, they cannot cut him. If they did wanna move on, he’s got $12 million dollars that is going to be fully guaranteed right around the start of the league year when he is not yet healthy enough to be moved….if they did wanna trade him, it’ll probably be around the spring or the summer.”

OBJ has three years remaining on his contract.

In response, GM Andrew Berry replied:

“Honestly, our focus with Odell - Odell is one of the best receivers in the NFL. He played really good football for us before he was injured. He’s done a fantastic job with his teammates at practice, he’s embraced the organization, he’s under contract for multiple years. So our focus with Odell is making sure he recovers from the ACL tear. We want him to be healthy and ready to go next year. But we’re pleased with him.”

Berry owns OBJ’s contract and should know where he stands. Why would Rapoport state such a far-fetched story if there wasn’t some kind of meat attached? If Rapoport doesn’t make this statement, there isn’t any question about the Browns’ intentions regarding OBJ going forward.

Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The numbers that OBJ has accrued while in Cleveland are certainly disappointing. 1,035 yards with just four touchdowns last year were considered pedestrian compared to his New York Football Giants’ tenure. And this season, he has just 319 yards in seven games. At that pace, he would have ended up with around 730 yards for this campaign.

Didn’t sign him to trade him

When the Giants signed OBJ to a huge contract extension, numerous media outlets questioned New York GM Dave Gettleman about whether the extension was simply a method to keep him in-house as property for trade bait to the right trade partner.

When questioned by Judy Battista of NFL.com at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gettleman stated, “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him. So understand that.”

On August 28, 2018, the Giants inked the 25-year old OBJ to a five-year extension for $95 million. The deal made him the highest-paid receiver in the league. As the high-profile receiver was going into his fifth-year option on his rookie contract, the deal was struck which installed a $65 million guarantee.

OBJ was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft taken 12th overall just ahead of Aaron Donald. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year and made the Pro Bowl. In his first three seasons, he gained 4,122 yards, scored 35 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl all three seasons. In his fourth year, he was on pace to gain over 1,200 yards and score 12 touchdowns when he suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 4.

In 2017, Nike and Adidas competed for his likeness on products to which Nike prevailed. The end result was a $29 million deal over five years. Four games into the deal, he became injured.

Every Browns’ fan knows how this story finished. In a whirlwind evening, it was announced that OBJ was traded to Cleveland for safety Jabrill Peppers, the Browns’ first-round pick (number 17 overall), plus their second of two third-round picks.

So when a GM says, “But we’re pleased with him”, sometimes that is Hollywood talk and posturing. Sometimes, it’s the truth.

The wrong fit for Baker?

Several media outlets have pointed out that Mayfield and OBJ are not a good fit. Never have been. Perhaps, the most prudent thing to do is trade one of them; which the most likely at this juncture would be Beckham.

At this point, the Browns are going down with the ship with Mayfield at the helm. He is a roller coaster in the passing game despite better offensive line play this year. But, certainly management isn’t going to part ways with the young signalcaller just yet. Or, at all. Right now, he is considered the franchise player. OBJ is not.

And really, OBJ and Mayfield have never stated they have issues with each other. OBJ’s best friend is Jarvis Landry and are once again teammates together. How cool is that? Mayfield and OBJ appear to have a positive admiration for each other and so far this season, there has been success.

Rapoport also stated:

“Beckham has never really fully embraced Cleveland, never had a good rapport with Baker Mayfield, and they may be playing better without him.“

So far, does the “wrong fit” synopsis seem to hold any water? And as far as his assumption that the Browns “may be playing better without him”, he has only missed two games: against the Bengals in which he became hurt, and the loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. In the Raiders’ game, Cleveland mounted just 122 passing yards and was totally anemic on offense. How is that “playing better without him” angle holding up?

And what was that part “Beckham has never really fully embraced Cleveland” about? What evidence of this information came to light to back up this statement? Appears irresponsible actually.

Aren’t the Browns allowed to have nice things?

This much we know here at DBN. NFL insiders such as Rapoport, Adam Schefter of ESPN and Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter make their living from calling, quoting sources and digging up scoops. Each man has infinite resources and the cell phone numbers of everybody that is anybody in the NFL.

The only real tangible thing each of these insiders have - is trust and integrity. General Managers trust them. Owners trust them. Players trust them. In each scoop, the insider’s reputation is at stake.

If any NFL-related personnel asked one of these insiders to keep it “off the record”, then that is what happens. The same can be said for Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. If any of these individuals divulge something said to them in confidence, then their relationships are challenged and in many cases – extinguished.

So, when Rapoport publicly made what appeared to be a disclosure, “My understanding is that there’s a very real possibility that he has played his final game with the Cleveland Browns”, bells and sirens should be going off with the Cleveland faithful.

Re-build the brand of OBJ

As it stands presently, OBJ has more value in keeping him. Right now, he is injured – again; one of many injuries he sustained in his professional career.

In 2017, he suffered a sprain in the preseason against Cleveland on a Monday Night by a helmet to left knee collision from the Browns’ Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Later in the season, he had a gruesome jammed right index finger when he mishandled an Eli Manning pass. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, he fractured his ankle coming down with a pass completion.

It was revealed that OBJ had developed a sports hernia injury during last season. A hip injury kept him limited. In January, he underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury. In pre-game warmups, he wows the early stadium crowd by catching spectacular one-handed grabs, and then drops two-pawed passes during the game.

What would make a lot more sense is for the Browns to let him play out his contract and hope that he will rebuild his reputation as one of the game’s best receivers. Currently, with his lack of production numbers, dwindling touchdowns, plus his injury history, his trade stock is no longer a first and third with a stud defender thrown into the mix.

To be honest at this point, would Cleveland even get a third-round pick for him? A second rounder? Let him hit the field and once again become that star player which can gain back his value. That would be the time to trade him. Right now, it would be the “buy high, then sell low” scenario.

And maybe Rapoport’s report has merit. Will GM Berry be content to pay OBJ $17 million a year for part-time playing time? Next season, Berry will be paying him to not play the first half of the season while he finishes his rehab. Maybe now is the time to unload him – and his salary. There are always cheaper receivers out there especially found in next year’s draft.

Or perhaps Berry also knows a bit of Hollywood talk. Name one single GM who will divulge what they are thinking – or planning.

There are other questions

Did OBJ tell Rapoport that he was finished with the Browns? How about Zeke Sandhu, his agent? Did Berry divulge something to the insider? Perhaps someone in the Cleveland front office? Maybe Kevin Stefanski was on the phone with Rapoport and whispered a thought about OBJ’s future?

Here’s another query: Why would Rapoport state this and not mention his source? In fact, he didn’t even indicate there was a source.

If this report has no merit, why would Rapoport risk his reputation by spitting out nonsense that hasn’t any substance? This part makes zero sense. He is not a person to sensationalize reports without something behind it just to get “likes”, page views or re-tweets.

And then, there’s this tweet from Tommaso Lascak at NFL GameDay:

“Yes multiple sources have been telling me that too: possible trade at the end of the season when OBJ is healthy, more to come.”

DBN does not know these answers; nor will Rapoport state anything further about his so-called “revelation.”

Poll

Would you be open to trading OBJ?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Yes
    (96 votes)
  • 19%
    We need him, so no
    (45 votes)
  • 38%
    Would like Berry to field options in the off-season
    (89 votes)
230 votes total Vote Now