The 2021 NFL trade deadline officially passed on Tuesday at 4 PM which marked the end of a pretty quiet trade period in the NFL. Drama was limited, aside from the Los Angeles Rams acquired superstar LB Von Miller from Denver, but there was nothing else really worth noting.
Little did we know, the real drama has come after the trade deadline, surrounding Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
There were rumors and speculation around the league coming into the deadline that OBJ and the Browns could possibly part ways. Odell has struggled mightily since coming to Cleveland in 2019. His inability to build a good rapport with Baker Mayfield has been widely recognized for sometime now.
To Odell’s credit, the star wideout who was often criticized with the Giants for his over-the-top antics, has been fairly quiet about all this. Reports indicate he has been unhappy and has wanted out of Cleveland for at least a year, yet he hasn’t really shown it publicly.
Even now, it’s not Odell that is making this a public issue. It is, however, Odell’s camp that is being quite loud about OBJ’s current situation in Cleveland. From his father to NBA star LeBron James, many are advocating for Odell to get out of Cleveland.
OBJ will show again why he’s special. WR1 #FreeOBJ— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 2, 2021
The trade deadline passed, and OBJ stayed put. I personally believe a lot of this had to do with his contract, as the Browns would have wanted a team to eat a majority (if not all) of the remaining money on the deal. I’m assuming a lot of NFL teams weren’t too excited to fit that bill.
Fast forward to Wednesday, and the situation has gone nuclear very quickly.
I'm told #Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. has been told he's excused from practice today, per league source. Additionally, it is my understanding that OBJ was ready to attend practice per usual.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) November 3, 2021
Source close to #Browns Odell Beckham Jr. said the wideout will not practice today and that the decision was “team-related”. @JosinaAnderson reports Beckham Jr. was ready to practice and the team told him he was “excused” from attending. This appears to be a crossroads.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) November 3, 2021
The Browns excused OBJ from practice, despite him being ready to attend practice. Not exactly a good sign. Then this report drops:
Earlier today, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told his players that Odell Beckham Jr. is essentially not on the team right now and that the WR has been told to stay at home.— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) November 3, 2021
Your coach telling your teammates you’re essentially not on the team, not exactly a vote of confidence that this guy is gonna stick around much longer. To his credit again, Odell seems to be handling this like a professional.
For what it's worth, whatever drama that's playing out between Odell Beckham Jr. & the Browns seems to be behind the scenes. Coaches & players tell me Beckham 'has actually been really good' and that he 'has handled everything well, puts on a brave face and keeps his mouth shut'— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) November 3, 2021
At this point in time, it appears very likely that OBJ is at the end of the road with Cleveland and will be bought out/released soon. I personally can’t imagine a scenario after all this public drama where Odell sticks around.
If it’s to be believed that OBJ could soon be on the open market, there should be a number of teams interested. Despite his level of play being down since joining the Browns, it was not that long ago that OBJ was one of the best receivers in the sport. He’s still just 28 years old, technically in the prime of his career.
There’s one team that obviously comes to mind here, and that’s the New England Patriots. I wouldn’t just label New England as a possibility, I’d go as far as to label them the favorites to land Odell if he becomes available.
This isn’t just another “big name player becomes available, insert Belichick walking GIF” type situation. There is precedent and evidence to show that Odell to New England could really happen.
Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. According to Over the Cap, the New England Patriots currently have roughly $4.28 million in cap space. That may not seem like much, but there are assuredly ways for New England could manipulate the cap to create a little extra room if needed. Besides, you could probably sign Odell for the rest of the season on a pretty team friendly deal.
Looking beyond the money aspect, Odell is needed in New England. The receiving corps is definitely much improved over last season, but it’s still nothing to write home about. The Patriots lack that game changing receiver, the type of receiver that OBJ was known as for many years.
He hasn’t been at that level for a few years, but one could argue that is due to the situation in Cleveland. A change of scenery could be just what OBJ needed to jump-start his once dominant level of play back up.
After all, OBJ has long admired Belichick and the Patriots. Dating back to his New York Giant days, Odell has been linked to New England. Before he was traded to the Browns in 2019, I was certain he’d be Tom Brady’s newest weapon.
What better team to get your career back on track than the Patriots? So many players have revitalized their careers here. That can be the same for Beckham Jr.
It also helps that New England is firmly in the playoff picture. OBJ wouldn’t be joining some garbage team, he’d be joining a Patriots squad trending in the right direction towards the playoffs. Beckham Jr. could elevate he Patriots from “In The Hunt” to serious contender.
If Odell is released, I think a partnership between him and the Patriots could be a truly beautiful thing. For New England, a chance to improve on an already solid team and give them a chance to seriously contend. For OBJ, a chance to redefine his image and once again become the superstar he was once remembered as.
Photo: (Joshua Gunter – Cleveland.com)
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