Odell Beckham Jr.

Browns GM: We’re Keeping OBJ

Maybe the trade rumors Odell Beckham Jr. finally quiet down now. Believe him or not, Browns GM Andrew Berry says the wide receiver will be a “long-term member” of the organization. 

With all due respect to the question, I think this is actually a topic, at least from our perspective, there really hasn’t been a ton of ambiguity,” Berry told NFL Network. “We’ve been clear from the beginning that we view Odell as a fantastic player. We’re a better team with him on the field. We see him as a long-term member of the organization. We really like how he’s acclimated and adjusted with the new staff. So the rumors, that’s not something that we can control, but we’re happy to have him as a part of our organization.”

Beckham clashed with Freddie Kitchens last year, but he was far from the only player to butt heads with the coach. Between OBJ and Kitchens, only one of them made it to Year 2 in Cleveland – the new regime has spent the last few months shooting down trade speculation about the star receiver and Berry’s latest comments are his strongest yet.

Relatively speaking, OBJ fell flat last year. Still, he pulled off 74 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. Quirks and all, Beckham is one of the most talented offensive weapons in the NFL and the Browns have every reason to make things work.

The latest round of speculation pegged Beckham for the Vikings. The Browns flatly denied any talks with the Vikes and we’re inclined to believe them. After moving on from Stefon Diggs for salary and personality reasons, it would have made little sense to replace him with Beckham.

In short, I will just say it was completely false,” executive Paul DePodesta told reporters earlier this month. “It’s a frustrating a little bit. I think it is pretty clear we are trying to build at this point…The idea that we would take away from that core at this moment just does not make a whole lot of sense and is not really something that we are exploring at all.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Keep Odell Beckham Jr.

The Browns say they aren’t trading Odell Beckham Jr. to the Vikings. Or, for that matter, any other team in the NFL. After talking with multiple Browns sources, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) reports that OBJ is “firmly” in the team’s plans for 2020. 

[RELATED: Browns Say OBJ/Vikings Rumblings Are “Completely False”]

Rapoport’s sources in Cleveland “literally laughed” when asked about the prospect of dealing the wide receiver. ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s source echoes those sentiments, saying that the Browns have had no discussions this offseason about trading OBJ (Twitter link). Despite the drama and weirdness that comes with Beckham, he stands as one of the most talented receivers in the league. The Browns – who have been denying trade speculation for months – have every reason to try and make things work.

In his first year with the Browns, Beckham had his worst performance in any full season. But, before he relocated to Ohio, Beckham was an absolute monster in New York. OBJ topped 1,300 yards in each of his first three seasons, including a career-high 1,450 yards in 2015. And, after his lost 2017 season, he still managed 77 catches, 1,052 yards, and six touchdowns in just 12 games.

The former first-rounder left the Giants as one of their all-time highest ranked receivers in catches, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. So far, he’s indicated that he wants to stick around in Cleveland to do the same for the Browns.

Besides, they paid a fortune for Beckham. The Browns shipped 2019 first- and third-round picks to the Giants, plus Jabrill Peppers and Kevin Zeitler, to acquire Olivier Vernon and the star receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns: We’re Not Trading OBJ To Vikings

This week, rumors of an Odell Beckham Jr. trade with the Vikings nearly broke the internet. Today, Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta went on the record to pour cold water on those rumblings. 

[RELATED: Browns Eyeing Trade Back For Boise State OL?]

In short, I will just say it was completely false,” DePodesta told reporters (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com). “It’s a frustrating a little bit. I think it is pretty clear we are trying to build at this point…The idea that we would take away from that core at this moment just does not make a whole lot of sense and is not really something that we are exploring at all.”

Of course, OBJ is no stranger to the pages of Pro Football Rumors. The mercurial wide receiver has been viewed as a potential trade candidate for some time. In December, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported that the former first-round pick wanted out of Cleveland. And, according to Glazer, he went so far as to tell opposing players, “come get me.” Soon after, Beckham did his best to quell the speculation:

I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here,” OBJ said. “We’ll figure this thing out. It’s just too special to leave…We’re going to be here. We’re going to do it again. And we’re going to be what we felt like we should’ve been.”

Still, the rumor mill continued to churn. The 49ers, who were in talks with the Giants before Beckham was traded to the Browns, were thought to be a possible destination for him just last month. But, despite all of the friction, the new regime led by Andrew Berry insisted that OBJ was still in the plans.

Beckham finished 2019 with his worst career full-season stat line: 74 receptions, 1,035 yards, and four touchdowns. Still, he remains one of the league’s most dangerous offensive weapons.

With the exception of the Giants, just about every NFL team would welcome OBJ into the lineup. The Vikings, however, just moved on from wide receiver drama by trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills. After that deal, giving up valuable draft picks for Beckham would make little sense.

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North Notes: Mixon, Browns, OBJ, Vikings

Although Christian McCaffrey landed his extension, the other members of 2017’s loaded running back class remain on rookie deals. The BengalsJoe Mixon resides in this camp. The sides have begun negotiations, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, who adds the Bengals are preparing for a Mixon holdout if no extension is agreed upon (subscription required). The Bengals are not prepared to pay Mixon on the $16MM-per-year level — the new standard for backs after McCaffrey’s deal — according to Dehner. The team would like to extend him, Dehner adds, just not in that price neighborhood. Cincinnati’s starting back is going into his age-24 season. Mixon’s contract does not contain a fifth-year option; he is set to earn $1.2MM next season.

With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott, the latest run of big-ticket running back contracts has mostly burned teams. Todd Gurley and David Johnson are elsewhere after signing lucrative Rams and Cardinals extensions, respectively, and Le’Veon Bell ($13.1MM AAV) did not fare well in his first Jets season. Despite playing behind shaky offensive lines, Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard rushing seasons. The Bengals have he, Giovani Bernard and 2019 draft choice Trayveon Williams under contract.

Here is more from the NFL’s North divisions:

  • A rumor circulated Wednesday connecting the Browns to engaging in Odell Beckham Jr. trade discussions with the Vikings. The rumor indicated the proposed compensation discussed was a package featuring second- and fifth-round picks. Quickly debunking this, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports no such talks occurred (Twitter link). It would be odd to see the Vikings shed Stefon Diggs‘ contract only to add Beckham’s $18MM-AAV deal. Beckham was again mentioned in trade rumors at the end of last season, but the latest Browns regime said the plan is to keep the star wideout for the 2020 season. Beckham’s deal could become a trade asset at some point, with the Giants having eaten all the dead money associated with it.
  • One of many defenders with whom the Browns agreed to one-year contracts, Karl Joseph remains in limbo to a degree. The former Raiders safety suffered a broken foot last season and underwent surgery. However, Joseph has not taken a Browns physical yet, Cabot notes. Joseph is the only member of this Browns free agency class not to have taken his physical, Cabot adds. There are no plans for Joseph to take a physical in the near future, but GM Andrew Berry does not expect this to be an issue that nixes the parties’ $2.5MM agreement.
  • It’s been a while since the Packers have authorized a major running back extension, but they are discussing a new deal with Aaron Jones.

49ers Not Interested In OBJ Trade

A year after Odell Beckham Jr. was traded by a team that insisted it was not interested in trading him, the star wide receiver popped up in trade rumors again a few months ago. While Beckham remains on the Browns, standing in Cleveland may not be too far from where it was in New York circa 2019.

The 49ers engaged in discussions with the Giants for Beckham last year, but things worked out pretty well for them despite OBJ being dealt to Cleveland. Although Emmanuel Sanders‘ defection to New Orleans leaves San Francisco again in need at wideout, Jay Glazer of The Athletic notes the 49ers will not pursue Beckham this offseason (subscription required).

While the 49ers indeed “loved” Beckham last year, Glazer adds that the team is now trying to add draft capital rather than trade it for veterans. San Francisco did this upon trading DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis, and the first-rounder acquired (No. 13 overall) could well be used on a wide receiver.

It became clear early last season that Jimmy Garoppolo needed more help, so the 49ers added Sanders. They had wanted to retain him but did not bid higher than the Saints’ two-year, $16MM offer. The 49ers will almost certainly add a receiver with one of their early-round picks to join their Deebo Samuel-led corps. San Francisco has used consecutive second-round picks on wideouts, with Samuel following 2018 acquisition Dante Pettis. The 49ers have not used a first-round pick on a receiver since their disappointing A.J. Jenkins selection in 2012.

Beckham and Baker Mayfield struggled to stay on the same page during Freddie Kitchens‘ one-and-done season. The Giants eating all the dead money in dealing Beckham to the Browns would make the 27-year-old talent an interesting trade chip, and OBJ surfaced in trade rumors late last season. While the three-time Pro Bowler’s long-term status in Cleveland probably isn’t stable, he remains in the Browns’ 2020 plans for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Injury Notes: Landry, Phillips, Beckham

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry was unable to avoid offseason hip surgery, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Landry had been hopeful that rest and rehab would be enough to deal with his injury during the offseason but instead opted to go under the knife. The news did not come as a huge surprise given the fact that Landry had previously mentioned he regretted not getting surgery sooner, but it remains noteworthy nonetheless.

The timetable for his return appears to be six-to-eight months, which would allow him back onto the field at some point during training camp.

Here’s some more injury notes from around the AFC:

  • Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips discussed the grueling recovery process from a torn ACL with Bills Insider Chris Brown. Phillips described his experience going through the “very long, slow process” working back to the field. On top of his original rehab, Phillips suffered a major setback in September, which delayed his recovery timetable even further. At this point, Phillips does not expect to be a full go until training camp.
  • Unlike teammate Jarvis Landry, Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. should be back at full strength from surgery in less than a month, per Cabot. Beckham, who underwent core-muscle surgery in late January, is on pace to be recovered in time to participate in offseason minicamp. While he did not attend minicamp last offseason, the combination of a new head coach in Cleveland and his attempts to come back from an injury could make his attendance more likely.

Browns GM On OBJ, Hunt, Free Agency

On Wednesday, the Browns formally introduced old friend and new GM Andrew Berry to the media. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from his presser:

  • It sounds like running back Kareem Hunt will have an opportunity to move forward with the Browns, despite his latest misstep. “With Kareem, we’ve communicated our expectations for him moving forward,” Berry said (via Jeff Risdon of USA Today). “We want guys who are going to be smart, tough, and accountable on and off the field. Kareem understands that.” Hunt, who was cut by the Chiefs after a video showed him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel, was recently found with marijuana and vodka after being pulled over by cops. The Browns can retain Hunt via the restricted free agent tender or negotiate a new deal with him, but it seems unlikely that they’ll want to make a long-term commitment to him at this time.
  • Berry offered similar thoughts regarding Odell Beckham Jr., though he noted that both he and Hunt will have to fit into the Browns’ “culture in terms of being smart, tough and accountable.” The GM says that both he and head coach Kevin Stefanski have chatted with Beckham, an indication that they’re all on the same page. OBJ reportedly wanted out of Cleveland towards the end of the season, but we recently heard that the Browns’ new regime has every intention of keeping him. OBJ had “just” 1,035 yards in a down year, but the Browns believe that he can get back to his old form in short order.
  • Berry says the Browns plan to “aggressively add talent” this offseason (via 92.3 The Fan). With roughly $50MM in available cap room, the GM will have opportunities to spend in March before he makes his pick at No. 10 overall in April.

Latest On Browns, Odell Beckham Jr.

To say there’s been some drama with Odell Beckham Jr. since he joined the Browns might be an understatement. There were reports toward the end of the season that he wanted out of Cleveland and was asking rival teams to come get him, although he emphatically denied those

The Browns gave up a lot to acquire him from the Giants, so it was unlikely they would’ve been too receptive to a trade demand. Now the old regime of Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey are out, and Kevin Stefanski and new GM Andrew Berry are in. Although neither of them were involved in acquiring Beckham, it sounds like they very much want him around. The new duo in charge “don’t want to trade him” and “don’t plan to trade him,” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video link).

That being said, Rapoport made it seem during his NFL Network hit that the plan isn’t necessarily set in stone, and could change depending on Beckham’s decisions this offseason. In his tweet, Rapoport says the team wants to keep him in the fold, but “how present he is this offseason and for OTAs may go a long way in determining that.” Interestingly, Rapoport says Stefanski recently met with the star receiver to “lay out some expectations” moving forward.

The Browns apparently want to see “some level of engagement” from Beckham as Stefanski installs his offense, which includes an “increased presence at OTAs” and an “increased presence at offseason conditioning.” Last year, Beckham skipped almost all of OTAs and didn’t report until the team’s mandatory minicamp. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes this time around, and it could be an indicator of whether guys on the team are buying into what Stefanski is selling. It still seems like it’s not quite guaranteed Beckham is a Brown in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Odell Beckham Jr. Undergoes Surgery

Odell Beckham Jr. struggled for much of the 2019 season. Although part of the former Pro Bowler’s issues stemmed from a shaky rapport with Baker Mayfield amid a tough season for the Freddie Kitchens-led offense, Beckham dealt with core muscle discomfort.

It was not certain whether Beckham was set for surgery, but he took care of that issue early in the offseason. The Browns announced their highest-paid player underwent core surgery on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Beckham spent much of this season not running in practice until Fridays. He also dealt with a hip injury but played in all 16 Browns games. OBJ finished with his worst full-season stat line — 74 receptions, 1,035 yards, four touchdowns — and one that was worse than his 12-game showing with the 2018 Giants.

The 27-year-old standout did not participate in most of the Browns’ offseason program last year, but with Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noting Beckham should be expected to recover by late March, he would be on track to be ready for all or part of Cleveland’s OTAs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Arrest Warrant For OBJ Rescinded

The arrest warrant Odell Beckham Jr. drew in New Orleans this week has since been rescinded, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal (on Twitter).

The Browns wide receiver allegedly slapping a New Orleans police officer’s buttocks after Monday night’s national championship game prompted the warrant, but NOPD confirmed that is no longer an issue for the 27-year-old standout. While this incident was captured on video and drew a fair amount of attention, it will not lead to an arrest.

In the video, a Superdome police officer is seen exchanging words with an LSU player. Beckham intervened and appears to smack the officer’s rear end. Initially, authorities originally sought a warrant for a misdemeanor sexual battery charge, but it was declined by a judge. A simple battery charge was then on the table. Now, Beckham appears to be in the clear after the officer signed an affidavit indicating he did not want to press charges, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes.

Although Beckham still has much to prove after a disappointing season, he will almost certainly not face any NFL suspension. The 2019 Browns trade acquisition caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns — career-low figures (by far) in a season in which Beckham played 16 games — and showed little chemistry with Baker Mayfield. Beckham’s 12-game 2018 season produced better numbers. Trade rumors already began to follow the ex-Giants superstar, but Beckham is expected to be one of the key players for Kevin Stefanski‘s first Browns team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.