Odell Beckham Jr.

Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. Done For Year

Odell Beckham Jr.’s season is over. The Browns star confirmed that he tore his ACL on Sunday against the Bengals (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson). 

Beckham is in his second season with the Browns, and he has yet to live up to expectations in Cleveland. He finished with 1,035 yards and four touchdowns last year, respectable numbers, but easily the worst in his career for a full season. His name has continuously popped up in trade rumors, with the team emphatically shooting down the latest round of speculation just a few weeks ago.

His production so far this season has been relatively disappointing, as the Browns have transitioned to a run-first offense that doesn’t have Mayfield chuck it too much. He didn’t top 81 yards in any of the seven games he’s played in, and outside of one three-touchdown outburst has been mostly quiet. After being forced out early from Sunday’s game, he’ll now be forced to put a lid on his season.

Cleveland traded first and third-round picks, as well as safety Jabrill Peppers and offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler for Beckham and pass-rusher Olivier Vernon back in March of 2019. Beckham is signed through the 2023 season, and there’s no easy escape hatch for the Browns. He’s set to earn $15.75MM in total compensation with $12.971MM guaranteed for injury. That’ll transition to a full guarantee if he’s on the roster the third day of the league year in the spring.

The Browns are 5-2, but they’ll have to forge ahead without their most talented offensive weapon. There should be more targets headed towards Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Taywan Taylor. The Browns may also look to install one of their practice squad receivers on the 53-man roster – either Ja’Marcus Bradley or Elijah Benton.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Odell Beckham Jr. Has Major Knee Injury

The Browns improved to 5-2 for the first time in ages with their thrilling comeback win over the Bengals, but they didn’t escape Cincinnati unscathed. Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr is “feared to have suffered a major injury,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Rapoport added that Beckham will have an MRI tomorrow to tell the full story, but that the “early indications aren’t good.” It’s unclear what exactly the injury is, but most often when it’s something serious like an ACL for example the team knows right away from physical exams and the MRI is only for confirmation. Whatever it turns out to be, if Baker Mayfield wants to keep the magic going in Cleveland it sounds like he’s going to have to do it without his top weapon moving forward.

Beckham is in his second season with the Browns, and has had a tumultuous time with the team. He finished with 1,035 yards and four touchdowns last year, respectable numbers, but easily the worst in his career for a full season. His name has continuously popped up in trade rumors, with the team emphatically shooting down the latest round of speculation just a few weeks ago.

His production so far this season has been relatively disappointing, as the Browns have transitioned to a run-first offense that doesn’t have Mayfield chuck it too much. He didn’t top 81 yards in any of the seven games he’s played in, and outside of one three-touchdown outburst has been mostly quiet.

Cleveland traded first and third-round picks, as well as safety Jabrill Peppers and offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler for Beckham and pass-rusher Olivier Vernon back in March of 2019. Beckham is signed through the 2023 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Garrett, OBJ, Mayfield

On Sunday, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett will face off against the Steelers for the first time since last year’s infamous contest. During the final moments of Cleveland’s win over Pittsburgh last November, Garrett ripped off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and proceeded to hit him over the head with the object. The fracas resulted in a season-ending suspension for Garrett.

The 2017 first-overall pick told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that he considered walking away from the game during his ban.

“I would’ve been OK,” Garrett said. “I love football. I love competing, I love my teammates, and I definitely want to win, but at the end of the day, I’m still a guy. I’m still a young man who has a lot of life to live and my life is much more than football. I just would’ve moved onto something else I enjoy and found another way to save my competitive nature, whether it would’ve been trying out for a basketball team or going to play baseball like [Michael] Jordan.

“I would’ve found something else I love to do, whether I was a writing coach or whatever. I would’ve left with my head held high and I wouldn’t have looked back.”

Garrett hasn’t missed a step following his return to the field. Through the first five games of the 2020 campaign, the 24-year-old has 15 tackles, six sacks, and a league-leading three forced fumbles.

Some more notes out of Cleveland:

  • Garrett also told Cabot that he’d welcome a face-to-face meeting with Randolph. “If it were to happen, I’d be fine with it,” he said. “Not just fine, but I wouldn’t mind it and I’d be happy to make it happen, if there were a way. I’m not sure how I’d go about that, how I’d broach that. I’m not even sure if he’d want to do that but I wouldn’t have a problem sitting down with him and just not talking about the incident, just talking man-to-man, how we move forward, and just being better men and football players and not letting something like that happen again…Whether we can do that, I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to extend the olive branch and make that happen.”
  • Cabot tweets that wideout Odell Beckham Jr. had his second COVID-19 test come back negative today. As a result, he’s been cleared to play against the Steelers tomorrow. The receiver was sent home Thursday after coming down with an illness, and he stayed away from the team facility on Friday. ESPN’s Jake Trotter notes that Beckham continued to participate in meetings remotely. Following a three-touchdown performance in Week 4, Beckham had five receptions for 58 yards during last week’s win over the Colts.
  • After suffering a rib injury during last weekend’s win, Baker Mayfield was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately, he was back to full participation on Friday, and despite his questionable tag for tomorrow’s game, it sounds like the quarterback is on track to play. “Like we’ve been saying all along, he’s improving every day,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski (via the team’s website).

Browns (Still) Have No Plans To Trade OBJ

Once again, trade rumors surrounding Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. have surfaced. And once again, the team has shut down those rumors.

“It’s totally not true,” a source close to the situation told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. “No idea where anyone would have gotten that.”

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, just as they did today, team sources refuted the notion that OBJ could be on the move.

Indeed, the 27-year-old attended Cleveland’s virtual offseason meetings this year after skipping most of the team’s on-site OTAs in 2019, so the Browns were hopeful that a more engaged and healthier player — Beckham battled core muscle and hip injuries much of last season — would look more like the All-Pro they thought they were getting when they consummated their blockbuster trade with the Giants. But after he recorded just three catches on 10 targets in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Ravens, a game in which Beckham dropped a critical third-down pass, rumors started to swirl anew.

OBJ and quarterback Baker Mayfield showed some rapport during Cleveland’s Week 2 victory over the Bengals on Thursday night, as Beckham posted four catches (on six targets) for 74 yards and a touchdown. It was just one game against an uninspiring Cincinnati defense, but it’s a start.

The 1-1 Browns still boast a roster that, on paper, looks like a playoff contender. Getting the most out of Beckham will be key to a postseason push.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Decker

Before Vinny Curry reached an agreement to sign with the Eagles, he received a better offer from the Browns, Geoff Mosher of InsidetheBirds.com tweets. Curry wanted to stay in Philadelphia, per Mosher, but one-year Eagles exec Andrew Berry — now the Browns GM — made a push to bring the veteran defensive lineman to Cleveland. This does not mark the first time the Browns have submitted what was believed to be the best multiyear offer for a defensive lineman only to wind up not signing him this offseason. They represented Jadeveon Clowney‘s best offer, but the former No. 1 overall pick did not go for it and remains a free agent. The Browns redid Olivier Vernon‘s deal, seemingly taking them out of the Clowney sweepstakes, but still appear to be in the market for D-line help. Cleveland did add Adrian Clayborn earlier this offseason, and he stands to be the top backup to Vernon and Myles Garrett.

Here is the latest from the North divisions, shifting first to a more famous Browns cog:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. made some comments recently that indicated he would not be especially upset if the 2020 season did not happen. “I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen,” Beckham said during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it.” These comments, however, came before the NFL finalized its safety protocols. Beckham did not opt out and is set for his second season with the Browns. After skipping most of the Browns’ voluntary activities last year, Beckham has been engaged in the process this year, Berry said, via the AP’s Tom Withers.
  • The pre-Lamar Jackson Ravens routinely rostered two quarterbacks, but they again plan to carry three this year, John Harbaugh said. The Ravens have Robert Griffin III signed up for a third season in Baltimore, while Trace McSorley enters his second NFL season. Harbaugh indicated the team kept three passers last year because it did not believe McSorely would pass through waivers to the Ravens’ practice squad.
  • Two-plus months after the last Taylor Decker contract update, the Lions are not believed to have discussed an extension with the fifth-year left tackle. They have prioritized a Kenny Golladay re-up over Decker’s, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Decker indicated this week the Lions have not made him an offer yet. A new Decker deal would likely cost the Lions north of $16MM annually. Both players are going into contract years. Decker making it through his fifth season without a new deal would make him a franchise tag candidate, though tags will not be as easy to apply next year if the cap plummets as expected.
  • The Packers announced they will not have fans at their first two home games. However, the team will re-evaluate the situation after those two September dates.

AFC North Notes: OBJ, Green, Andrews, Steelers

It’s been almost three years since Odell Beckham Jr. fractured his left ankle, and while the star wideout has yet to return to the Pro Bowl, he’s managed to put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. However, in an alternative universe, OBJ may have decided to hang up his cleats following that 2017 campaign.

Appearing alongside Cam Newton, Todd Gurley, and Victor Cruz on his YouTube series The Bigger Picture, Beckham admitted that he almost retired following the injury.

“I said this in college, I said, ‘I fear the day that they make this game a business and not what I love,’” Beckham said. “And when I seen that for the first time after breaking my ankle, like I thought about like not playing no more. Like this is not really it for me because they’ve ruined the game of football for me a little bit.”

OBJ didn’t elaborate on what the Giants did to upset him during that 2017 campaign, although it’s worth noting that the receiver had rushed back from a preseason ankle sprain. The veteran’s tenure with New York ended last offseason when he was traded to the Browns, and the 27-year-old proceeded to appear in all 16 games for the first time since 2016.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC North…

  • When we learned yesterday that A.J. Green wasn’t going to sign an extension with the Bengals, it was made clear that he’ll willingly play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Of course, that could be temporary lip service; since the wideout hasn’t signed the tender, he could skip training camp and preseason and still earn his full salary. However, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, until Green officially signs the tender, the Bengals have the ability to rescind the franchise tag. This would save the organization almost $18MM, and while it’d be a somewhat unprecedented move, Florio notes that “in an unprecedented year, it’s impossible to rule anything out.”
  • The Steelers have made some changes to their coaching staff. As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com passes along, Blaine Stewart is now the assistant wide receivers coach and Denzel Martin is now the assistant outside linebackers coach. The duo had previously served as coaching assistants. The organization also shook up their scouting department, promoting Chidi Iwuoma from BLESTO scout to a college scouting position and Dennis MacInnis from scouting intern to BLESTO scout.
  • While Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has Type 1 diabetes, he made it clear that he won’t be opting out of the 2020 season due to health concerns. “We’ve got a big year coming up,” Andrews said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “I want to be able to do a lot of things, and … just being able to help this team win is exciting for me.” The former third-rounder earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season after hauling in 64 receptions for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Odell Beckham Jr. will be good to go when the Browns convene for training camp. Kevin Stefanski confirmed the three-time Pro Bowl wideout has 100% recovered from the core muscle surgery he underwent earlier this offseason, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Beckham battled this problem for much of last season, often not being able to practice until Fridays, while also navigating a hip injury. While the star receiver suited up for 16 games — after failing to do so in three of his five Giants seasons — OBJ did not develop much of a rapport with Baker Mayfield. In Year 2 with the Browns, Beckham attended the team’s virtual offseason meetings. He skipped much of Cleveland’s onsite OTAs last year.

Jarvis Landry also underwent winter surgery — a hip procedure — and is behind Beckham in recovery. Stefanski expects his other Pro Bowl wideout to be healthy at some point in August. So it appears Landry will miss some time in camp, and Stefanski said he would be cautious with Beckham as well. Moving away from Cleveland, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will begin training camp with right tackle Matt Feiler at left guard (Twitter link via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). The Steelers need a new left guard after Ramon Foster‘s retirement. However, a Feiler position switch would create a hole at right tackle — where he started 16 games last season. The Steelers signed Stefen Wisniewski as a possible Foster replacement, and Dulac does not expect Feiler to ultimately make the move to guard. Should Feiler be a genuine option at left guard, third-year tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and fourth-year blocker Zach Banner would compete for the Steelers’ right tackle gig.
  • Both James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are in contract years. While nothing has transpired on the Conner extension front, Dulac expects the Steelers to extend Smith-Schuster and avoid the franchise tag to do so. The Steelers have displayed an excellent ability to identify receiver talents for many years and have often let starters walk in free agency (Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace) or traded them (Santonio Holmes, Martavis Bryant). But the team does not have a veteran contract in its current receiver stable, leaving the door open for JuJu to get paid.
  • The Ravens have several standouts either in contract years (Matt Judon, Ronnie Stanley), extension-eligible now (Marlon Humphrey) or set to become free to negotiate in 2021 (Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews). John Harbaugh is optimistic the team will be able to keep some key players, even as the threat of a reduced 2021 salary cap looms. “We’ll keep as many guys as we can,” Harbaugh said, via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required). “I’m very optimistic about the fact that we have a good cap situation going forward. We have not been in good cap shape for the last six years or so. Really, seven years. Every year, we’ve been behind the eight ball with the cap. That’s just the way it was. This year was a little better, and next year will be a lot better.”

Browns Notes: Kaepernick, OBJ, LB

In an interview with WKNR AM-850, Hue Jackson said that he wanted the Browns to sign Colin Kaepernick in 2017 (via Jeff Schudel of the News Herald). The Browns, of course, did not sign him, and placed rookie Deshone Kizer under center instead.

I wanted him,” Jackson said Friday. “It just didn’t work out. Obviously, those things do have to work from a finance, draft, whatever all that is. And that wasn’t my decision.”

Jackson may have wanted Kaepernick in 2017, but he didn’t share that opinion publicly at the time. Like most coaches, Jackson skirted questions about the QB and said that he wasn’t being discussed as a serious option. Meanwhile, Jackson didn’t have full control over the 53-man roster. Personnel decisions were ultimately made by Sashi Brown, who served as the Browns’ GM up until December of that year.

Last month, Kaepernick found himself back in the NFL news cycle when the league briefly listed him as “retired” on his remodeled player page. The following day, the NFL changed his status to reflect that he is, in fact, an unrestricted free agent. The odds of Kaepernick returning to the NFL seemed slim just a few weeks ago, but it may not be so far fetched today. Kaepernick, 33 in November, has been training with the intent of returning to the field.

My desire to play football is still there,” Kaepernick said in February. “I still train five days a week. I’m ready to go, I’m ready for a phone call, tryout, workout at any point in time. I’m still waiting on the owners and their partners to stop running from this situation. So I hope I get a call this offseason. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

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.