The Cleveland Browns are the trendy pick as the sleeper team in 2019. After achieving a 7-8-1 record last season and finding their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the change in fortune and attitude has led many to believe that the Browns are legitimate contenders for the AFC North division crown. To help get there, they could trade for New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., but that is not the best idea.
Last week, Fox Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer dropped a bombshell that he predicts Odell Beckham Jr. will be traded from the New York Giants this offseason. When Baker Mayfield dines with Odell Beckham Jr., the football community went into a frenzy. The buzz was that Mayfield was on a recruiting mission to convince Beckham to push for a trade to the Cleveland Browns. Nevermind that Mayfield and Beckham, along with their mutual friend and Mayfield’s teammate Jarvis Landry, all train together during the offseason.
Landry played with Beckham at LSU, where current Browns receivers coach Adam Henry coached them. Henry also coached Beckham in New York during the 2016-2107 seasons.
Cleveland was one of the first teams to be mentioned as a possible trade option for Beckham. While he could certainly help, here is why the Browns should not acquire the 26-year-old wide receiver:
The acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. will cost too much in draft capital
The draft assets would be rather significant to acquire Beckham from the New York Giants.
A realistic trade would include the Browns 2019 first-round draft pick, 17th overall, and more. The range of the additional pick varies anywhere from a fourth-round pick to another colossal first-round pick. Cleveland finally has someone in general manager John Dorsey that knows what to do with his draft picks. Why give them away?
In the past year, we have had wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Amari Cooper get traded for only first-round picks. While Beckham is indeed a more productive receiver than either of those players, the price tag seems too steep, especially for a luxury addition.
Beckham’s contract is a severe salary cap hit
The former LSU Tiger is now NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver. Beckham just signed a five-year $90 million extension last offseason, and in 2019 his deal will eat up $21 million in cap space. The three-time Pro Bowler will be due at least $19 million for the three following seasons. Overall, the contract includes $65 million guaranteed.
The financial burden on the team gets heightened by the fact that Beckham has played in only 14 of the Giants’ last 32 games. Through five seasons, he has missed 20 games due to an injury and one because of a suspension.
Wide Receiver is NOT the biggest need on the Browns roster
The Browns can absorb his contract with the amount of salary cap space they have available, which is $79 million according to Over the Cap. However, wide receiver is NOT the most critical team need right now. There are more noteworthy holes especially on defense where Cleveland can find better usage of their financial assets.
Take a look at How the Cleveland Browns take the next level in their 2019 offseason gameplan. Here are Cleveland’s more pressing needs than wide receiver:
- Interior defensive line: The Browns gave up 4.7 yards per rush attempt last season and the fifth most rushing yards (2,163) in the NFL. Additionally, they tied for 22nd in the league in sacks and you can never have too many pass rushers.\
- Offensive tackle. Given the amount of salary room available, they should target one or two young veteran tackles who would help protect Mayfield and create holes for Nick Chubb and the rest of the running back corps.
- Linebackers: Besides Joe Schobert, running backs out of the backfield and tight ends were doing what they wanted in the passing game when paired against linebackers. Getting more athletic at this position is a must.
- The surprise pick of Denzel Ward proved to be wise for the secondary. Now it’s time to get Ward a dance partner. It was a revolving door at the other corner position. Cleveland should spend in free agency to find a veteran cornerback to help Ward with their play and to mentor him.
Henry did wonders with the Browns’ receiving corps last season. Antonio Callaway, a fourth-round pick, showed tons of promise and should be even better next season. Also, Breshard Perriman, a former first-round pick, revived his career after coming to Cleveland. Rashard Higgins showed some chemistry with Mayfield too. It seems relatively apparent with the play-calling variations that Mayfield doesn’t require an elite wide receiver to be successful.
Beckham is a distraction and is a me-first player
Beckham is a problem child and a distraction. Why the Browns would want this type of player in the locker room is puzzling. Cleveland is on such an incline and is an up and coming franchise after being the laughingstock of the NFL. Why kill the positive momentum? I would think that Dorsey is smarter than this.
Beckham is a hot-head who is a me-first player who has no problem calling out his teammates. This diva is a headache that will create divisions within the team. His tirades on the sidelines are a spectacle that I hope I never see in First Energy Stadium.
The Browns recently made a controversial addition when they signed troubled running back Kareem Hunt. The most obvious difference is that Hunt was dirt cheap and didn’t cost the team anything in terms of draft capital. If the experiment fails, both sides move on. Trading for Beckham would lead to a failed outcome and the franchise would feel the ramifications for years.
Beckham’s presence does not guarantee any wins
There is no denying that Beckham, Jr. is a great wide receiver. He commands a double-team and extra defensive attention on every single snap. His 92.8 yards per game is the second-best average all-time behind only Julio Jones.
In just 12 games during the 2018 regular season, Beckham put up 1,052 receiving yards on 77 receptions with 6 touchdowns to go along with five individual 100-plus-yard receiving games. All of those stats do not equal or guarantee any wins. The Giants have made the playoffs only once during Beckham’s career.
Since his rookie year in 2014, the Giants have a record of 31-49. They have finished in the bottom half of their division in four of the last five seasons.
The city of Cleveland is beaming with excitement. NFL pundits and analysts are predicting great things for the Browns in 2019 and beyond. The anticipation is at a high peak of what the Browns will do during free agency and the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.
Although they finished 7-8-1 last season, the Browns have many holes to fill. Those holes should be filled with their 10 draft picks and by signing a free agent or two. By including some of their draft picks in a Beckham trade, Cleveland would not be able to fill their holes to the best of their ability.
While Beckham, Jr. is a great player, he is just one player. Furthermore, he is a great player who has been on numerous losing teams. So why does it seem the Browns are so willing to give up valuable draft assets to obtain him?
Given Beckham’s enormous contract, cost of draft capital, injury history, and diva attitude, he should scare the Browns away. His presence will not elevate the team and will damage the chemistry of the Mayfield-led Browns that was built last season.