The Cleveland Browns have some work to do this offseason to build on the franchise’s first playoff win in 26 seasons.
But one area that may not need much attention is at wide receiver, where the Browns have veterans Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry as the starters.
That is according to head coach Kevin Stefanski, who appeared this week on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, Will and Zubin show and said the Browns are in a “good spot” to keep the duo of Beckham and Landry together for a third season, even with their high salaries:
“I think you don’t want to be so dogmatic about it and say, ‘All right. We have to have this number of receivers and this number of tight ends and this running back.’ I think you go with what you have and you make sure that you’re putting yourself in position to field a competitive roster for a bunch of years moving forward.
“So, yeah, I think we’re in a good spot. The easy part to say is, ‘Hey, just give us more players. Give us three more great players on the offensive side, and give us three players on the defensive side, and we’re going to spend this amount on each guy.’ I think we have a plan. We’ll follow through with that plan.
“But ultimately as coaches, we’ll make it work with whatever we go to. And I say that because sometimes you have a season, I’ve been a part of some teams in the past where you had four great receivers, so you molded your offense to that, or you had three great tight ends, and you molded your offense to that. So that’s our job as coaches to take what we have on our roster and make sure we’re maximizing everybody’s talents.”
Under normal circumstances, the idea of the Browns moving on from either Beckham or Landry this offseason would be a non-starter. But with the duo eating up around $30.5 million in salary and the league-wide salary cap falling to somewhere between $180 million and $185 million, it is understandable to raise the question of whether or not the Browns can afford both of them.
That is even more true given that Beckham is coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2020 season in Week 7. It was the latest major injury that Beckham has suffered, and he has now played in only 39 out of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons.
Landry is the opposite of Beckham as he has only missed one game in his career, and even that carries an asterisk because it came last season when Landry missed the game against the New York Jets as part of the high-risk, close contact group of wide receivers who were out due to COVID issues.
Still, Landry is not as dynamic as Beckham and would only carry a dead cap hit of $3 million if the Browns were to move on, but Stefanski and Berry have both repeatedly made it clear that Landry is a key part of the team.
“It’s a business, but...things take care of themselves.”— Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (@KeyJayandZ) March 4, 2021
Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski on the timetable for getting Baker Mayfield a contract extension@keyshawn | @RealJayWilliams | #Browns | #KJZ pic.twitter.com/ZnqdYK2NaS
Speaking of offseason work, Stefanski was also asked about the upcoming contract situation with quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Browns should have no problem picking up Mayfield’s fifth-year option by the May deadline, and from there they can start working on a contract extension.
As to when that will happen, Stefanski said the situation will “take care of itself”:
“I will tell you, obviously Andrew (Berry) and I talk about all of our players, and all of these things. All of these decisions, it’s a business, but things take care of themselves, it works itself out. I’m going to focus on the day-to-day and as it applies to Baker I know he will do the same thing.”
The entire interview is available here, with Stefanski coming on just past the 10-minute mark.