The Cleveland Browns have largely failed to meet their lofty expectations in 2021 thus far. Sunday's lowly home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped them to a pedestrian 4-4 on the year and in dead last place in the uber-competitive AFC North. The Browns continue to lean on their running game to move the ball forward on offense. Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield is clearly playing through a shoulder injury, and Cleveland's struggles in the passing game have unfortunately been furthered by Mayfield’s incapacity to capture any sort of chemistry with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
That situation has now reached a boiling point of no return. At this point, it's fair to deem this partnership as irreparable, and the Browns should trade Beckham, either before Tuesday afternoon's trade deadline, or more realistically, in the upcoming offseason.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Beckham has failed to record 100 receiving yards in a single game this season and his involvement in a struggling offense hit an all-time low on Sunday when he posted just one reception for a measly six-yard gain. Social media can oftentimes serve as both a blessing and a curse, and in this situation, it continues to expose what appears to be a fractured relationship.
On Tuesday morning, Beckham's father, Odell Beckham Sr., posted a video that highlighted Mayfield's refusal to throw Beckham the football in opportune situations. The video and its release caused an uproar and the reactions from celebrities of all walks of life were immediate and wide-ranging. Noted Ohio native and basketball superstar LeBron James quickly voiced his support for Beckham, and ESPN insider Dianna Russini promptly addressed the situation by reporting the Browns have "no plans" to trade Beckham ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline. The fact that it even had to be said is awfully telling.
Beckham's current contract runs through 2023 and will pay him close to $30 million over the next two seasons. It may be difficult to find a willing partner to take on such a noteworthy financial burden, but Beckham no longer fits the culture or offense that head coach Kevin Stefanski is continuing to build in Cleveland. There remains a lot to play for in 2021, but general manager Andrew Berry and Stefanski must get to the bottom of their offensive issues in the coming months. At this juncture, Beckham is part of the problem, not the solution.
Cleveland's passing offense is broken. Currently averaging a pathetic 221.4 passing yards per contest, the Browns are failing to give opposing defenses reason to fear their ability to attack them through the air. Whether you blame it on injuries, a lack of chemistry, the scheme, or everything in between, their ineptness to adequately march down the field via the passing game is quickly threatening to derail what began as such a promising campaign.
The clear divide between Mayfield and Beckham is not helping, and shouldn't get a chance to repair itself in 2022.
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