Are the Browns interested in reuniting with Odell Beckham Jr. If so, shame on them.
Browns reported interest in Odell Beckham Jr. is another act in their perpetual clown show
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Takeaways from news bits as NFL free agency negotiating period begins …
On Friday, Odell Beckham Jr. held a workout to demonstrate his recovery from his second ACL surgery in two years. Reportedly, representatives of about a dozen NFL teams attended, and the Browns were one of them.
I have questions.
Such as: Why?
Rather: Are you kidding me?
More to the point: Have they no pride?
I mean, this was a player who undermined the Browns’ 2021 season by signing off on – or, at the least, not repudiating – a video of lowlights retweeted by Odell Beckham Sr. that damningly incriminated quarterback Baker Mayfield for ignoring, or failing to get the ball to, OBJ.
The video told the truth, of course; the eye in the sky doesn’t lie. Mayfield and Beckham were oil and water. I’ve been told their messy breakup can be traced to the Progressive Insurance endorsement opportunity that was initially earmarked for Beckham, according to sources, and tactfully intercepted by Mayfield’s marketing team. Whatever.
The “unintended consequences” of the Beckham video destroyed Mayfield’s ability to lead the Browns through a season with real post-season hopes alive well into December.
I have always contended the Beckham video uprooted the team’s confidence in Mayfield and had much, much more to do with Mayfield’s demise than the non-throwing shoulder injury, of which countless quarterbacks have played through.
Mayfield played up that injury to national “insiders” as if it was career-threatening. In truth, the Beckham Sr./Jr. video affected Mayfield’s career much more damagingly.
Browns GM Andrew Berry did Beckham good by enabling Beckham’s relocation to the Los Angeles Rams. Ultimately, he earned a Super Bowl championship ring. He re-injured his ACL in the first half of the Rams’ Super Bowl 56 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Beckham would have been a Super Bowl MVP candidate had he not suffered the non-contact injury.
When you get down to it, Beckham’s premeditated undermining of Mayfield’s leadership directly led to the Browns mortgaging their future for Deshaun Watson. So, how’s that going?
There have been leaked reports of the Browns keeping in touch with Beckham over the past two years. Again, why?
Yes, the Browns need a speedy receiver. But Beckham? Really? He’ll be 31 in November, has had two ACL surgeries in two years, and hasn’t had 10 touchdowns in a season since 2016. Who in the Browns’ building is so enamored with his engaging smile and his one-handed catches?
Are the Browns serious about bringing back the emotionally-draining drama that defines Beckham’s career? The clown shoes. The wardrobe malfunctions. The ridiculously overpriced wristwatches. The $350,000 orange Rolls Royce with the Beckham one-handed catch hood ornament.
That me-me-me stuff really plays in blue-collar Cleveland, right?
And now there’s a report that Beckham is seeking a $20 million-a-year payday.
The very fact the Browns are perpetuating the idea of reuniting with Beckham is an insult to their fans. Another example of their tone-deafness.
Last week, several teams leaked to their favorite media platforms that they were not interested in pursuing the services of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. I would have a ton more respect for the Browns if they would have issued a press release stating: “The Cleveland Browns are not interested in pursuing a contract with Odell Beckham Jr.”
What about this guy?
When handicapping other receivers the Browns might pursue, associations with Watson have been prominent. And they have centered on former Houston Texans teammates DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Those are not going to happen.
There is another association with Watson, however, that is being overlooked. It goes back to his days at Clemson.
What about Hunter Renfrow?
Renfrow was the Clemson receiver who caught the 2-yard touchdown pass from Watson with :01 remaining to defeat Alabama, 35-31, in the 2017 National College Football Playoff championship game. Renfrow led Clemson with 10 catches in that game.
Renfrow became a fifth-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2019. In 2021, Renfrow, an under six-foot slot receiver, led the Raiders with 103 receptions for 1,038 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Raiders responded by signing Renfrow to a two-year deal for $32 million+.
Now the Raiders are tearing up their roster and Renfrow is said to be available in trade.
In four seasons with the Raiders, Renfrow has a catch percentage of 74.8. Beckham’s career catch percentage is 60.3.
In 2021, Renfrow caught 103 of 128 passes thrown him, for a phenomenal 80.5 percent catch percentage.
Renfrow has a cap number of $13 million+ in 2023 and 2024. If a trade could be worked out, a simple re-do of his contract or extension would lower that number significantly.
I’ve heard the Raiders are shopping Renfrow. I think the Browns would be better served with acquiring Renfrow than Beckham.
The Watson re-do
According to overthecap.com, the Browns are one of six teams still above the 2023 salary cap. They currently are $14.049 million over the cap.
This will be corrected when the Browns convert Watson’s $53.99 million 2023 salary into a signing bonus before Wednesday’s deadline. The Browns will go from $14 million+ over the cap to about $21 million UNDER the cap.
If Berry wants to create more cap room, he can do the same conversion with Myles Garrett, whose base salary for 2023 is $17.25 million and whose salary cap number is $29.176 million. It is a simple procedure.