We woke up on Sunday to the news from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport that receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been dealing with a sports hernia during the season, which will result in an expected offseason surgery. But, that news did not sit by itself. Slightly before the game on Sunday, a report from Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer that Beckham has been telling opposing players and coaches that he wants out of Cleveland and that the relationship between the receiver and team will not end well. Then we moved to the game where a video sprouted up on social media supposedly showing Beckham not in the huddle with his teammates, but talking with an opposing player out wide at his receiver position. That was an eventful day of media hysteria surrounding the superstar receiver. But, through it all, I believe it is not even close to time to cut bait and trade Beckham.
First and foremost, Beckham has not done anything detrimental to the team. He has not gotten in a fight and caused himself to get suspended for the year. He has not threatened fans and media personalities on Twitter. He has not skipped a practice or been late to practice during the week of the biggest game of the season. He has not missed a game. So, there is no clear sign of anything detrimental Beckham has done to his team. He has shown up and played every game.
The stories that come up about him and his future are the nature of losing and a player with the talent and pedigree of Beckham. The Browns are not playing at a top tier level, with the season having a lot of ups and downs including some deep downs. This can frustrate any player. But, it can frustrate a player, even more, when that player is being used in an abnormal way than that player has been used before in his career. Beckham is used to being a highly productive No. 1 receiver, garnering the most targets, usage, receptions, and touchdowns. He has not fit in as he did in New York. So, pairing the losing and abnormal productivity he is experiencing, frustration is not unexpected. Also, throw in the injury he is dealing with, I am not sure what person would not be exasperated about his situation. The report by Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson points to these aspects being the brunt of the frustration. So, I am less sure that he wants out of Cleveland more than he wants out of the current status of being an injured, underperforming receiver on a losing team. He can get out of that situation while staying with the Browns.
The biggest argument for keeping the talented receiver is his on-field prowess this season. Through the injury and offensive dysfunction that has found him as a tough fit in the system, Beckham is still having a productive season. He has 59 catches for 844 yards and two touchdowns. His receiving yards total is the 25th most in the NFL. He is on pace for about 72 receptions and 1038 yards. So, he (along with receiver Jarvis Landry) will likely be reaching the 1,000 receiving yard plateau that hasn’t been reached by a Browns receiver since 2016 when Terrelle Pryor did it. So, the production is still there through all the circumstances.
His presence on the field is another reason to keep Beckham. With the attention of the defense on Beckham, receiver Jarvis Landry is having a great year. At his current pace, Landry will have about 1,224 receiving yards, which would be the highest season total of his career. Landry can thank some of that success to his fellow receiver, Beckham. Beckham is still receiving double coverage on many plays, allowing Landry to excel with less attention. The threat of Beckham on the field opens up the field for the rest of the offense. He garners attention, which means less attention is given to the other players. This is an underrated value of Beckham.
I really do not see any upside in trading Beckham. First off, selling low is never the right move. Beckham is not having his ideal season. There is little possibility that the Browns can get the right value for him. But, that doesn’t even matter. His talent completely outweighs any of the so-called negative media attention the team is getting. Yes, he has underperformed to his standards. But, that does not mean the Browns should just cut bait and move him. Beckham should get the offseason to get healthy and then work with his fellow offensive players to get more familiar and comfortable with them. The offseason can do wonders for this tough situation he is experiencing right now. Head Coach Freddie Kitchens can use the offseason to better build an offense to utilize Beckham’s talents. And, if the Browns move on from Freddie Kitchens, maybe the next offensive play-caller can better scheme for the talent of Beckham. But, either way, time can heal all wounds physically, emotionally and schematically. There is no need to rush the end of this relationship.