Well isn’t this spicy? According to Mary Kay Cabot, free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is “open” to returning to the Cleveland Browns this offseason. Beckham initially departed the Browns in November of 2021 in rather controversial fashion. Beckham (with a John Stockton-like assist from his loving father) orchestrated his midseason departure from Cleveland following the public deterioration of his relationship with starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Beckham went on to join the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent in a move that helped them capture Super Bowl LVI. Beckham unfortunately tore his ACL in the first half of Los Angeles’ Lombardi triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals, and his free agency dealings have unraveled in rather slow fashion, likely due in part to the strenuous rehabilitation process he’s facing.
The longer Beckham remains on the open market, the more the possibilities of potential outcomes expand. Beckham returning to Cleveland would qualify as another shocking development in an offseason that’s been littered with them and the Browns should absolutely consider the possibility of welcoming Beckham back into the fold. The Browns have completely altered the trajectory of their franchise in recent weeks. A stunning blockbuster trade that saw them acquire disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans signaled a bold, aggressive move that proves Cleveland’s front office brass is in win-now mode. A previous trade that netted the Browns Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys immediately provides Watson with a dominant boundary receiver but placing Beckham opposite Cooper would give the Browns one of the most feared one-two punches in all of professional football.
It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Beckham’s departure from Cleveland was directly linked to his ill-advised relationship with Mayfield as the two failed to get on the same page, leading to consistent underwhelming and frustrating performances from the Browns’ offense. Beckham was beloved by the city of Cleveland, its fans and his teammates. Owner Jimmy Haslam developed a relationship with Beckham throughout his tenure as a Brown and would likely embrace a reunion. Now that Mayfield will soon make his public, unsightly exit from the Browns, the door for a potential Beckham return has been opened.
Beckham would be returning to an unrecognizable offense that should be considerably more effective going forward under Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s continued tutelage. Make no mistake, Beckham would likely possess little-to-no interest in returning to Cleveland if not for the new-found presence of Watson and Cooper, but the idea must qualify as tempting now that Cleveland has seemingly addressed the issues that irked and doomed Beckham’s disappointing initial run as a Brown.
It takes two to tango however, and Beckham’s current team isn’t expected to let him get away without a fight. The Rams would reportedly prefer to retain Beckham’s services on a team-friendly deal. Head Coach Sean McVay places a ton of emphasis and value on acquiring game-changers at receiver. McVay and General Manager Les Snead have already signed free-agent receiver Allen Robinson to a lucrative three-year contract. The Rams then swiftly traded fellow receiver Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a sixth-round selection in 2023, creating a hole at the position that is expected to be filled by Beckham.
We are several weeks into the unpredictable, exciting free agency period and Beckham’s pass-catching services surprisingly remain available. A return to Cleveland isn’t overly likely but all indications signal it isn’t impossible given recent occurrences. A Beckham-Browns reunion would send an already wacky offseason into even further of a frenzy.
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