The Odell Beckham Jr. has reached the crisis stage, and the Browns have three options to resolve it. (USA Today)
My take on where the Browns, OBJ go from here
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from the Odell Beckham Jr. crisis …
Freedom v. lots of money.
That’s what the Odell Beckham Jr. situation has come down to. That has to be at the crux of discussions between Browns GM Andrew Berry and Beckham’s representation at Elite Athlete Management.
“They are discussing a lot of things,” coach Kevin Stefanski said after disclosing that Beckham was excused from Wednesday’s practice. “The truth is I do not have a ton of details for you.”
As a vested veteran, Beckham earned his entire 2021 salary by being on the Browns’ roster on Tuesday at 4 p.m. before Game 1. In Beckham’s case, the remaining portion of his 2021 salary is about $7.25 million.
That’s probably why he couldn’t be traded to receiver-desperate New Orleans before the NFL trade deadline.
ESPN’s Kimberley Martin reported the teams did discuss a trade on Tuesday. The Saints likely asked for the Browns to pay the majority of Beckham’s remaining salary in any deal, as the Denver Broncos did on Monday in the Von Miller trade to the Rams. The Browns might have responded, “We’ll do that for a second-round draft pick.” Which the Saints obviously would have rejected.
If the Browns had accepted whatever the Saints’ terms were, it would have been a graceful exit out of this mess – good for Beckham, good for Baker Mayfield, good for the Browns.
But once the Browns rejected a trade of Beckham to his home-state team – a consistent contender in the NFC under offensive-minded Sean Payton – it just turned up the heat on an already-boiling dumpster of toxic waste. It had to boil Beckham’s blood that the Browns blocked a trade to the Saints.
1. Berry talks Beckham into returning, apologizing for the video posted by his father that framed Mayfield as the problem, and promising not to be a distraction while trying to work things out the rest of this season. (Very, very unlikely.)
2. Berry poses the freedom issue to Beckham. We’ll release you and allow you to find a new team (Saints?) if you agree to X-amount in a separation agreement. You get the chance to play for an NFC contender in your home state and improve your marketability in free agency next year. (Very unlikely.)
3. Berry holds his ground and copies the Houston Texans’ handling of DeShaun Watson, essentially paying him not to play and cause any distractions. (Most likely.) In this scenario, the Browns would bank on Mayfield returning to his 2020 late season-self and playing freely without Beckham in his head, proving again the Browns can win without Beckham.
It’s a mess the Browns didn’t foresee happening.
But they may have been the only ones not to see this coming.