It’s not a stretch to think that Beckham or the Browns or both will decide to move on after a year. If Beckham decides to utilize some of the power that NFL players have acquired in recent years, he could end up talking or tweeting his way out of Cleveland, regardless of whether the Browns want him to go.
The folks at SportsLine.com recently published odds regarding OBJ’s team as of the first week of next season. The Browns are the overwhelming favorite at -500 (bet $500 to win $100). Next are the Patriots at +400 (bet $100 to win $400), the Packers at +600, the 49ers at +750, the Vikings at +800, the Bills at +900, the Raiders at +1000, and the Jets at +1200.
Beckham has made clear his past interest in playing for the Patriots; if Brady sticks around, that would be an intriguing potential move. The 49ers are more viable than the odds would indicate. They had been linked to Beckham late last year, and they made a play for him once he became available with the Giants. As to the rest, the most compelling potential destination would be the Jets, since it would bring him back to New York, where his career began and where he had his biggest game as a Brown, in Week Two against the Jets.
It’s also important to keep an eye on the Los Angeles teams. The Rams are always looking to make a big splash, and Brandin Cooks‘ concussion issues could make them think about making a move. And the Chargers need to realize that it’s critical to combine substance and style in order to resonate in L.A. Beckham would go a long way toward properly christening that new stadium.
Contractually, it would be easy for Cleveland to move on. The deal currently has $2.75 million in guaranteed salary for 2020. Another $11.25 million in base salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 20.
But that money inevitably will be paid by whoever employs Beckham in September; although the Browns would carry the $14 million in cap charges until a trade happens, the $14 million in cash and cap obligations would disappear instantly, if he’s traded.
One practical impediment to a trade could be an effort by Beckham to get a new contract. He reportedly was miffed that Antonio Brown finagled a trade and a new contract earlier this year. If Beckham will initiate a power play as to where he next plays, he should take it a step farther and make a power play as to how much he gets paid.
Ultimately, it all may come down to whether Beckham believes 2020 will be his best year only if he finds another new team, whether the Browns will accommodate him with a private request to be traded, and if not whether Beckham will take his case for a new area code public.
Those questions will be influenced in large part by what happens over the balance of the 2019 season. If the Browns win more games and Beckham gets more involved in the offense, maybe he’ll want to stay.