It’s been a rough season for the Cleveland Browns, to say the least. The same goes for one of their newest stars, Odell Beckham Jr.
After being dubbed a sleeper team and potential Super Bowl darling by many heading into the season, the team has fallen flat. Head coach Freddie Kitchens’ first year in his new role has been rocky at best, and Cleveland is just 6-9 through 15 games. That’s a far cry from being the team some projected to win double-digit games and make the playoffs in 2019.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield burst onto the scene a season ago, yet the encore to his rookie performance hasn’t been an encore at all. He’s thrown 18 interceptions on the year, and his touchdown total (19) is just barely above that. The Browns offense currently ranks 22nd in the NFL in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game.
This wasn’t supposed to be how things unfolded. In an effort to help Mayfield make a leap forward in year two, general manager John Dorsey traded for superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Offering the New York Giants a package of draft picks and safety Jabrill Peppers, Cleveland thought it made a huge move. Although Beckham has been fine this season, his performance hasn’t lived up to expectations.
In 15 games, Beckham has caught 71 passes for 954 yards and just three touchdowns. His 63.6 yards per game average is by far the lowest of his career. His catch percentage (passes caught vs. total targets) is also a career-low 55.9 percent. Part of this can be attributed to Mayfield’s regression. Some blame falls on Kitchens for lackluster play-calling. At the end of the day, though, Beckham has failed to step up.
Despite this development, the Browns would be foolish to abandon the Beckham experiment after just one season. He’s currently just 27-years-old and his contract runs through the 2023 season. If Mayfield is going to improve, having an uber-talented receiver at his disposal will help a ton. It’s been a tumultuous season for Cleveland, but there’s plenty of hope for the future.
Another thing worth noting: Beckham’s been hurt all season. Per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the star receiver has played through a sports hernia he suffered before the regular season began. This would at least partially explain why he hasn’t been an elite-level wideout this year. He’s pushed surgery off until after the season is over (if he chooses to undergo it).
There have also been rumblings that Beckham isn’t happy with the Browns and has been telling opposing players, “come get me.” He has since refuted those claims, expressing that he simply wishes the team was performing up to preseason expectations:
Ok😑😑😑… I NEVER said I was not happy in Cleveland, just like everyone else I’m hopeful for better results. Period. Next story plzz 😭 …
— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) December 6, 2019
At the end of the day, Odell Beckham is one of the most iconic players in the NFL. For better or worse, he constantly makes headlines. His talent is undeniably among the best in the league. With a long-term commitment working in their favor and an opportunity to hit the reset button on the horizon, the Cleveland Browns should keep Beckham for at least one more season and run things back in 2020.