Honestly, I wish I were surprised by this.
I wish I was shocked when I heard that Odell Beckham Jr. – the dynamic wideout I urged the Browns to trade for back in February – is now urging opposing teams to come get him out of Cleveland. However, a report many viewed as “stunning” was, to me, just another day at the office.
After all, this is the kind of drama that fits the sideshow vibe this team has mastered over the past few decades. Frankly, a surprising outcome from the Browns’ trade for Beckham would’ve been the all-pro wideout logging a successful season and leading his team to the postseason.
Alas, that’s not what we’re dealing with. Instead, Cleveland has an unhappy receiver on its hands, and it’s a situation which won’t be as easy to solve as some may think.
Sure, it may seem simple at first glance. Beckham has reportedly been telling opposing players to ask their respective teams to trade for him. As a result, one would think the solution is the Browns fulfilling his request in the offseason and sending him packing.
However, before Cleveland can move forward with anything, it needs the answer to one question – is Beckham wanting out because of what’s taken place during a frustrating season, or did he never want to be here in the first place?
If it’s the latter, the Browns should at the very least try to fix the situation. Provided he can’t be convinced, they’ll likely have to move Beckham in the offseason to avoid this situation getting worse.
At the same time, ask anyone with the team, and they’ll tell you Beckham has been anything but a malcontent. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and coach Freddie Kitchens insisted they haven’t heard anything about the star wideout wanting out, which seems to be the general theme around the locker room.
Interesting that #Browns players, coaches haven’t detected Beckham’s unhappiness or desire to leave.
They say he’s engaged, talkative and driven to win. Sure he gets upset when he doesn’t get the ball. What wide receiver doesn’t?
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) December 10, 2019
Perhaps this is just a matter of trying to keep the story from becoming too much of a distraction, pretending it’s nothing until the team can deal with the whole ordeal in the offseason.
That said, if Beckham wants out because of what he’s been through this season, his request is both understandable and also something the Browns shouldn’t feel compelled to fulfill. Not yet, at least.
To clarify, there’s no excuse for asking opponents to push for a trade after games. You can only do that so many times before the media picks up on it, which finally happened this past Sunday.
At the same time, if you look at what Beckham has endured this year, it’s not hard to see how he came to this breaking point.
In the span of a few months, he was traded from his original team after his then-GM said he wasn’t going anywhere. He suffered a sports hernia during Browns training camp, an injury he’s been playing through in part because, per his own quarterback, it wasn’t handled properly by the team’s medical staff.
Ice this cake with the fact he’s been laughably misused by Kitchens throughout the season, and you can see a situation where frustration would get the better of him.
Again, this doesn’t make requesting a trade from opponents the right thing to do. However, it does create a situation where jettisoning Beckham as soon as the opportunity arises isn’t necessarily the right call for the Browns to make.
As noted, his frustration is completely understandable. Additionally, the sources for it, while unfortunate, can still be resolved. The team can take the proper steps to address his hernia, while Kitchens has no excuse not to figure out how to properly utilize a wideout of his ability. Beckham has four remaining years left on his contract, which should serve not as trade appeal, but as proof the Browns have enough time to make this work.
Bottom line – Beckham is too talented to give up on after one season. On top of that, if he’s even slightly open to the idea of playing in Cleveland, the team needs to spend the offseason doing whatever it can to resolve this situation.
Someone as skilled as Beckham isn’t easily replaced. Knowing that, the Browns should avoid giving up on a player who’s gone through a tumultuous year and, based on this weekend’s report, is still having trouble coming to terms with everything he’s endured.