It’s something that’s been said on our Peacock platforms throughout the week, and it’s something I’ve reiterated on various radio stations. Before the Browns and Bengals play tonight in Cleveland, let’s underscore the point.
The Browns should trade Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham and the Browns don’t fit. They never have. More specifically, he doesn’t click with quarterback Baker Mayfield. Instead of continuing to force something that won’t happen naturally (if it ever were going to happen, it would have by now), the Browns should simply get what they can for Beckham and move on.
The trade that brought Beckham to Cleveland arguably became the moment the bubble burst on the belief that the Browns were destined for great things. It was all positive when Beckham showed up for the start of the 2019 offseason program. Then, he stopped showing up. And Beckham and Mayfield lost the opportunity to develop the kind of natural chemistry that plays out during games.
Then came the 2019 season, which featured too much of a concentrated effort to get the ball to Beckham, too much frustration when it didn’t happen, and too much talk about making it happen. Mayfield should be allowed to run the offense and throw the ball to the open man; he shouldn’t be expected to force the ball to Beckham on plays when Beckham is taken away.
So what transpired in 2019 continues into 2020: Teams take Beckham away earlier, knowing that it will create frustration for Beckham and disrupt the rhythm of the offense.
Against the Ravens in Week One, Beckham simply wasn’t very good. He drew a stupid 15-yard penalty when grabbing the face mask of a defender after a screen pass that went nowhere. He semi-alligator armed a chance to catch a deflected pass with multiple Ravens in the immediate vicinity. And then he dropped a key third-down reception while the Browns were still very much in the game, either because he was running with the ball before catching it or because he was bracing for potential contact or some of both.
Regardless, it’s not working. There’s now more than enough evidence to conclude that it’s not working. In the offseason, the Browns reportedly talked to the Vikings about a trade. Although the Vikings don’t need him now after taking a receiver in round one, the Browns should resume looking for a trade partner.
The Patriots make the most sense, primarily because Beckham has made it pretty clear in the past that that’s where he wants to be. (He may feel differently after getting a taste of the Patriot Way.) Now that Cam Newton has replaced Tom Brady, Beckham may be even more intrigued about making the move.
Could things change tonight? Sure. But after seeing the Cincinnati defensive backs swarm around the Chargers’ receivers on Sunday — and after seeing Bengals safety Justin Bates III bring the wood on multiple occasions that will drain his wallet — it’s more likely that Beckham once again will be neutralized, and that if the Browns win it won’t happen because of his contributions but despite them.