Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. To Play In Week 3

The Browns will be without Jarvis Landry for a bit, but their other well-paid wide receiver is set to make his 2021 debut. Kevin Stefanski said Friday that Odell Beckham Jr. is good to go for Week 3.

Beckham suffered a torn ACL October 25 of last year, and although the Browns moved forward and snapped their near-two-decade playoff drought without him, the team certainly could use him now. Landry is on IR, and no other Browns wideout has more than three catches this season.

It looked like OBJ would be ready for Week 1, after the team was “amazed” with the eighth-year receiver’s recovery ahead of training camp. But the Browns scratched him after warmups in Kansas City. They then ruled him out early for Week 2, leading to some additional concern. The 28-year-old target will step back into a key role Sunday against the Bears. Beckham did not miss any practice reps this week, per Stefanski.

Beckham played hurt in 2019 but managed to clear the 1,000-yard barrier. And he scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner, in a shootout against the Cowboys last season. But Beckham’s two Browns yards-per-game figures — 64.7 and 45.6, respectively — are by far the lowest of his career, however. The injury injected additional uncertainty regarding Beckham’s long-term future.

While it is no secret Beckham’s Browns tenure has underwhelmed, both from a health and fit standpoint, he will have a key opportunity to rebuild his stock beginning Sunday.

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Browns ‘Amazed’ With Odell Beckham Jr’s Recovery

We heard last week that Odell Beckham Jr. was working out with Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield ahead of minicamp, and now we have another positive update as the star wideout comes off his serious knee injury.

The Browns are “amazed” with where OBJ is in his recovery from surgery, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Beckham, of course, tore an ACL back in October and missed the rest of the 2020 season. Just eight months later, it appears he’s pretty much back to full strength. Kay Cabot reports he’s “been running fullspeed, cutting on a dime and leaping to make his trademark one-handed catches” during minicamp practices.

She also notes that he’s been doing it “without a brace or sleeve” on his knee. There’s been a lot of talk about the supposed lack of chemistry between Beckham and Mayfield since the former arrived in Cleveland, and Kay Cabot reports the duo “got to know each better off the field during some boating and other recreational activities in Austin” around the time of Mayfield’s aforementioned passing camp in Texas.

That’s got to be music to the ears of Browns fans. The LSU product had 1,035 yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland in 2019, which was solid but not great by his standards.

Then he had only 23 catches for 319 yards in seven games before going down last year. The Browns made major progress last season, but will need OBJ to get back to his old self if they want to be a true championship contender. Thankfully, everything appears to be going smoothly for the receiver who not too long ago appeared to be on his way out of Cleveland.

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WR Rumors: Jones, Toney, Giants, OBJ

Julio Jones trade rumors first surfaced because the Falcons identified his contract as a way to create much-needed cap space, but later reports indicated the decorated receiver requested a trade out of Atlanta in March. Traded to the Titans for a package headlined by a second-round pick, Jones described his Falcons divorce as mutual.

We discussed everything. We just made the decision,” Jones said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was just cut and dry. There was nothing toward football; it’s business. So, you just had to accept whatever happens, happens. Like I said, it was a mutual agreement on it. We just split up.”

The 32-year-old wide receiver built a Hall of Fame resume in Georgia and, for a bit this spring, was slated to team with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. But this reality never appeared to be on the table. Jones did, in fact, request a trade in March, Ledbetter adds. The All-Pro target said his Atlanta exit did not come about because of the team’s transition from the Dan Quinn era to an Arthur Smith-led staff. The Titans agreed to take on all of Jones’ $15.3MM guaranteed 2021 salary, separating them from the rest of the trade suitors.

Here is the latest wide receiver news from around the league:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. skipped much of the Browns‘ 2019 offseason program and did not work out with Baker Mayfield during the COVID-19-marred 2020 offseason. Beckham was rehabbing an offseason surgery at that point. Despite having torn an ACL Oct. 25 of last year, OBJ joined Jarvis Landry in working out with Mayfield in Austin this week, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. Landry confirmed Beckham was running routes at Mayfield’s workouts, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A lack of chemistry between Beckham and Mayfield has been evident during their 1 1/2 seasons together; extra reps should help ahead of a key season for the former Pro Bowl wide receiver. The Browns, who have seen many veterans stay away from OTAs, will convene for minicamp next week.
  • Kadarius Toney also avoided his team’s OTAs, skipping the Giants‘ pre-minicamp workouts. The first-round pick doing so surprised the team, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Toney did not sign his rookie contract until last week but had inked a waiver to protect himself in case of an injury during OTAs. Rookies often work out with their teams before signing their deals. Toney’s four-year, $13.7MM contract is fully guaranteed.
  • Shortly after the Giants selected Toney 20th overall, Joe Judge called Sterling Shepard to discuss his future with the team, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I thought it was necessary to talk to Shep specifically because when we drafted Toney, the word in the press as he was reading those headlines was specifically he’s a slot receiver,” Judge said. “Which, look, we are not bringing in someone to play one position. I thought it was relevant at the time to contact Shep out of respect for how he is with our program to communicate that with him.” Shepard is the longest-tenured Giant, arriving during the Jerry Reese regime. Although Shepard is signed through 2023, the Giants can create more than $6MM in cap space by moving on from him next year. The sixth-year veteran is expected to play more in the slot, following Kenny Golladay‘s arrival, after working there a career-low 34% of the time in 2020.

Browns Will Not Pursue Julio Jones; Patriots’ Interest Mild?

Shortly after any potential Browns-Aaron Rodgers rumors stopped in their tracks early, the ascending team will pass on the latest big name connected to a trade.

Cleveland is not interested in Julio Jones, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot, who adds no Odell Beckham Jr.-for-Jones swap should be expected. Despite a rocky start in Ohio, which has involved trade rumblings, Beckham remains a player the Browns are high on. They are eager to see him back healthy in 2021, with Cabot adding the team has no plans to adjust its receiver room — which houses OBJ, Jarvis Landry and the recently re-signed Rashard Higgins — at this juncture.

[RELATED: First-Round Pick Offered For Julio Jones] 

While Cleveland did not profile as a Jones fit, Super Bowl aspirations notwithstanding, New England does. The Patriots have held internal discussions on the future Hall of Fame wideout, but the franchise known to make a splashy receiver trade from time to time may sit this one out. At this point, the Patriots’ interest in Jones is tepid, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer.

The Patriots reside in the top 10 in cap space ($15MM-plus), but they have not signed their top three draft picks. That will account for a few million. Though New England could move some funds around, the Falcons having a first-rounder on the table may change the equation for the Pats. Atlanta would surely prefer to send Jones to the AFC, but if an NFC team is the only one offering a first, that may well take precedence.

New England signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne early in free agency, with Agholor collecting more guaranteed money than all but two 2021 UFA receivers (Kenny Golladay and Corey Davis). The Patriots clearly have big plans for the ex-Eagles and Raiders wideout, even though he has been inconsistent. Jones would certainly help Cam Newton and/or Mac Jones, but he does not have a no-trade clause. He may well be sent elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Broncos, OBJ, Ravens, Mack

Deshaun Watson still has significant off-field issues to surmount before being in the clear to resume his career, but the embattled Texans quarterback’s deposition is not set to take place until after the 2021 season ends. This could put Watson on track to play this season, though our Rory Parks noted a Commissioner’s Exempt List stay may well enter into this equation. The Broncos were once a clear suitor for the Pro Bowl quarterback. Now, their focus has shifted. They prefer an Aaron Rodgers trade to waiting out the Watson saga, according to NFL insider John Clayton of 104.3 The Fan. Far and away the clubhouse leaders in Rodgers rumor mentions, the Broncos are planning to make an aggressive pursuit of the reigning MVP — if the Packers make him available for a trade. While Rodgers has not come out and said he wants to leave Green Bay or indicated where he would like to go, the Broncos were on his reported wish list from the start. The future Hall of Fame passer indeed wants to be traded to the Broncos, Clayton adds. Rodgers is not expected to show up for the Packers’ minicamp next month, according to Madison.com’s Jason Wilde.

Although we still appear a ways away from true trade talks, the June 1 date after which a Rodgers deal becomes less financially constraining for the Packers is approaching. Shifting to players already in the AFC, here is the latest from the conference:

  • Tavon Young has become one of the NFL’s most injury-prone players, and the Ravens may have selected his heir apparent in Shaun Wade this year. The former early-round Ohio State prospect is expected to begin his career in the slot, and Young is not yet 100%. ACL tears sidelined Young for all of 2017 and 14 games last season, and he missed all of the 2019 season due to a neck ailment. Baltimore DC Don Martindale said Young has not been fully cleared from his latest round of ACL rehab, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets. Young has missed an astounding 47 games over the past four seasons. Thanks to restructuring Young’s contract, the Ravens would be tagged with more than $9MM in dead money over the next two years were they to cut the veteran corner after June 1.
  • Better news may be coming out of another AFC North contender’s headquarters. Odell Beckham Jr. has resumed sprinting after suffering an ACL tear last November, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer expects the Pro Bowl wideout to be in the Browns‘ Week 1 lineup. Beckham’s injury may have helped keep him in Cleveland, depressing the trade market for the talented wideout who has yet to truly take off with the Browns. Trade rumors have followed Beckham in Cleveland, but he is set to return at a $14.5MM salary this season.
  • In more injury rehab news, the Colts had Marlon Mack back on the field this week. Mack did not participate fully in Indianapolis’ OTA sessions this week, but Stephen Holder of The Athletic notes the fifth-year running back was available for part of the voluntary workouts (subscription required). Mack sustained a torn Achilles in Week 1 last season. He re-signed with the Colts on a one-year, $2MM deal, pointing to optimism the former fourth-round pick will be ready to go to start this season.

Latest On Browns’ Receivers

The Browns are coming off their most successful season in decades, but they’ve got very important questions to figure out this offseason. One of the most pressing questions is what’s going to happen in their receivers room.

Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both have big cap hits for 2021, and there was a report back in November after Beckham tore his ACL that some believed he had played his final down as a Brown. GM Andrew Berry tried to squash that when he recently said Beckham was still very much in the team’s plans moving forward, and head coach Kevin Stefanski echoed that sentiment this week. “I think we can, yeah,” Stefanski said to Keyshawn Johnson on ESPN Radio when asked whether the team can fit Landry and Beckham’s salaries for 2021, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Interestingly, Kay Cabot writes that Cleveland “would likely listen to offers for Beckham this offseason,” but that “there’s not expected to be much of a market” for him given his contract and the knee injury he’s coming off of. She notes the team could get out of Landry’s deal with only $3MM in dead cap, but doesn’t think they have any plans to cut him.

Stefanski spoke very highly of Beckham’s efforts to get his knee right, saying “he attacks rehab like I’ve never seen people do it.” Thankfully everything seems to be going well with his recovery and he should be all systems go for 2021.

The Browns also have a third key receiver flying more under the radar, Rashard Higgins. Kay Cabot writes that the impending free agent will receive a contract offer whenever the cap is set, but that if he receives an offer in the $6MM annually range that Spotrac.com estimates him at, it’ll likely be “more than the Browns are willing to pay.”

“If he can get that on the open market, he’ll likely be gone,” she writes. Higgins caught 37 passes for 599 yards and four touchdowns last year. As of right now, it looks like Landry and Beckham are strong favorites to be back catching passes from Baker Mayfield next year, although that seemingly could change if a team steps up with trade interest in Beckham. Higgins’ status is more up in the air, and it appears to be trending toward him heading elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Odell Beckham Jr. Remains In Browns’ Plans

While Odell Beckham Jr.‘s stock has taken a hit since his 2019 trade to Cleveland, the star wide receiver has shown flashes during his Browns tenure. The Browns would like to see more.

Beckham is recovering from a midseason ACL tear, and GM Andrew Berry indicated the 28-year-old wideout is progressing well on his road back. As of early March, that road is not slated to lead out of Cleveland. The second-year Browns front office boss indicated the Browns are eager to see Beckham back (Twitter link via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot). This comes months after a report indicated the seven-year veteran had quite possibly played his final game as a Brown.

The three-time Pro Bowler has previously heard a team commit to him before trading him. The Giants did so in 2019. They shipped him to the Browns in a package that sent Jabrill Peppers and a first-round pick to New York. Thus far, the Giants have gotten the better end of the trade. Beckham and Baker Mayfield have yet to establish a consistent rapport, and OBJ has encountered injuries in each of his two Cleveland slates.

Beckham was previously mentioned in trade rumors going into the 2020 offseason, but Berry shut those down quickly. Any OBJ deal would certainly not produce the kind of return the Giants received in 2019.

Even though Beckham’s contract can be viewed as a year-to-year pact, with the Giants eating a considerable chunk of dead money to unload it, the deal still calls for Beckham to count more than $15MM against the cap from 2021-23. Beckham’s 2021 cap number sits at $15.75MM. It will be interesting to see if the Browns move to adjust it. The Browns managed to reach the divisional round of the AFC playoffs without Beckham, though he remains one of the NFL’s top receiver talents.

Berry also confirmed the team wants to re-sign Rashard Higgins, who did the most to replace Beckham this past season. It doesn’t sound like a deal will be reached before free agency, however, with Berry indicating Higgins will test the market (Twitter link via Cabot). Beckham and Jarvis Landry‘s cap numbers are set to comprise approximately a sixth of Cleveland’s 2021 cap, leaving seemingly little room for a notable Higgins pact.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Williams, Chiefs, OBJ, Patriots

Adam Gase insisted the Jets were not trading Quinnen Williams, but that did not stop teams from reaching out about a potential trade. The Jets received inquiries from multiple teams on their standout defensive tackle before last week’s trade deadline, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Although GM Joe Douglas was not with the team when the Jets selected Williams — during a draft in which Gase was not exactly in lock-step with previous GM Mike Maccagnan — the team views the ex-Alabama prospect’s talent and positional value to be too great to trade. After a less impactful rookie year, Williams has broken through as an NFL sophomore. He has three sacks and seven tackles for loss — already bettering his 2019 numbers.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • The ChiefsAndy Reid-era front office has undergone changes, thanks to the executive talent the organization has amassed. Ryan Poles may well be poised to follow Chris Ballard and Brett Veach to a GM job, with Field Yates of ESPN.com noting (via Twitter) the current Chiefs exec is firmly on the GM radar. The Chiefs have twice promoted Poles over the past three years, moving him to college scouting director in 2017 and to assistant player personnel director a year later. Should Poles land a GM job, the Chiefs would be entitled to third-round draft compensation.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. underwent successful ACL surgery Tuesday, the Browns announced. The team expects OBJ to be ready for the 2021 season. It is not certain if the 28-year-old wideout will, in fact, be with the Browns for the ’21 campaign. His through-2023 contract contains no guaranteed money, and his star has certainly fallen since being dealt from New York to Cleveland. Beckham landed in trade rumors last year and this offseason, and rumblings have resurfaced about the Browns dealing the John Dorsey-era acquisition in 2021.
  • When Sony Michel returns from IR, it is unlikely the third-year Patriots back will recapture his previous role. Damien Harris stood out in training camp and has played well since debuting. The 2019 third-round pick should not be expected to lose his lead role in New England’s backfield, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Harris did suffer a chest injury Monday, but it remains to be seen if the former Alabama back will miss any time. Harris is averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season. While Michel is at 6.7, that is on just 26 totes. The former first-round pick’s career YPC average sits at 4.2.

Injury Updates: T. Brown, Garoppolo, Clowney

Let’s round up a few injury-related items from around the league.

  • Raiders OT Trent Brown is back on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Brown is expected to miss at least a month of action (Twitter link).
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports confirms a report from several days ago that 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will not require surgery on his injured ankle, but the 29-year-old signal-caller is expected to miss at least a month (Twitter link). The injury further clouds Garoppolo’s uncertain future in San Francisco.
  • Titans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney is out for today’s game against the Bears. He is dealing with a meniscus issue and may ultimately opt for surgery.
  • The Browns have a bye this week, and next time they’re on the field, they hope to be rejoined by Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb (Twitter link via Rapoport). Chubb has been dealing with an MCL injury, and though Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson have played reasonably well in his absence, getting Chubb back will be a big boost to Cleveland’s playoff push.
  • Some may be wondering if WR Odell Beckham has already played his last game for the Browns, as he will miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear and has never really embraced Cleveland. Kim Jones of WFAN reports that OBJ will undergo surgery to repair the ACL on Tuesday (Twitter link).
  • Ravens RB Mark Ingram left Baltimore’s game against the Eagles several weeks ago, and he still has not returned to action. Rapoport says Ingram is dealing with a high-ankle sprain (Twitter link), which explains the multi-week absence. Ingram has been ruled out for today’s game against the Colts, but younger backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins may be the better options anyway.
  • When the Eagles return to their facility following this week’s bye, they expect to have RB Miles Sanders back, and they believe WR Alshon Jeffery will be a full participant in practice (Twitter link via Rapoport).

Has Odell Beckham Played His Last Game For The Browns?

The Browns have lost wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for the season thanks to a torn ACL, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says there is a “very real possibility” that OBJ has played his last game for Cleveland (video link).

Of course, this is not the first time we have heard reports that Beckham’s days with the Browns could be numbered. Towards the end of his disappointing first season in Cleveland in 2019, it was reported that Beckham wanted out and that he had approached opposing players and coaches before (and even during) games and told them, “come get me.” His name cropped up in trade speculation again in the spring, but team sources refuted the notion that OBJ could be on the move, just as they did a few months later.

It would be a stretch to suggest that the Browns are a better team without Beckham, who is a premium talent. But it’s also true that QB Baker Mayfield performed well as a rookie in 2018 without Beckham, struggled in 2019 with him, and was terrific in a win over the Bengals last week after Beckham left the game due to injury. There are a whole host of explanations that have nothing to do with Beckham, but as Rapoport observes, OBJ has never really embraced Cleveland and has never developed a rapport with Mayfield, who often looks as though he is trying to force-feed the ball to his star wideout.

Beckham cannot really be traded until the spring or summer of 2021. $12MM of his 2021 salary will become fully guaranteed in March, before he will be recovered from his ACL injury. After that, though, all of his guarantees will have been paid out, and the rest of his contract looks quite palatable for an interested team (Beckham is due to earn $14.5MM in 2021 and $13.75MM in 2022 and 2023, with $1MM roster bonuses and $250K workout bonuses each season).

So depending on how the rest of the year goes for the Browns — who are sitting at 5-2 and have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way — OBJ may find himself on his third team before the 2021 season begins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.