The Los Angeles Rams pulled out of the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes quicker than anyone thought was possible.
On Tuesday, the defending NFC West champions acquired young receiver Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots for a first-round pick and a swap of mid-round selections. This deal came out of absolutely nowhere. It also comes on the heels of Los Angeles seemingly making a play for Beckham.
Now that the Rams are no longer in the hunt for OBJ, what team can be seen as the favorite to land New York’s embattled receiver? Easy money would be on the San Francisco 49ers. Much like Los Angeles, they have been linked to OBJ. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is also in need of that Julio Jones-like No. 1 receiver in San Francisco that he had in Atlanta.
Adding to the intrigue here, San Francisco boasts the draft capital (four picks in the first three rounds) and the salary cap space ($38.6 million) to make a deal of this ilk work. That’s the thing right here. While well over half of the NFL might have interest in Beckham, only a select few can make a legitimate play for him.
Assuming for a second OBJ will be traded (all signs point in that direction), San Francisco is going to be one of the teams bandied about the most.
But not so fast.
Anyone adding Beckham to the mix wouldn’t only be giving up at least one first-round pick. Instead, said team would also have to make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. San Francisco is mere months removed from giving up an early second-rounder for Jimmy Garoppolo, only to sign him to what was then the richest contract for a quarterback in NFL history.
Is GM John Lynch really willing to go about team-building in this way for the second time in less than six months? It’s an open question.
While San Francisco might be the “sexy” pick to land Beckham Jr., where going to go another route. Ultimately, our prediction is that the embattled receiver lands with the Cleveland Browns.
Yes, you read that right: Cleveland.
Even more so than the 49ers, this long downtrodden franchise has both the salary cap room and draft capital to make a move for OBJ. Coming off a winless 2017 campaign, Cleveland boasts the first and fourth overall picks in this month’s draft. It also has two of the first three picks in the second round as well as the 64th pick in the annual event. Flush with $70.6 million in cap room, the Browns can also pretty much pay OBJ whatever he wants.
What better way to get a dormant fan base excited than to add Beckham to the mix with the recently acquired Jarvis Landry (who’s campaigned hard for OBJ to join him) and former All-Pro performer Josh Gordon? Given that Cleveland already has a stop-gap starting quarterback in the form of Pro Bowler Tyrod Taylor, this would make for one entertaining product.
Adding someone of Beckham’s ilk wouldn’t put a strain on first year general manager John Dorsey’s long-term rebuild plans. It would simply expedite those plans. Maybe offer up all three second-round picks to New York for OBJ. This would still enable Cleveland to get that franchise quarterback of the future with the first pick and another long-term contributor at No. 4 overall.
Heck, the team could even move down from the fourth spot to recoup some of the selections it lost in the above-mentioned and hypothetical trade. For example, Indianapolis picked up three second-round picks from the New York Jets to move down from No. 3 overall to the sixth pick. Surely, quarterback-needy teams would be calling to jump Denver at five for a future at that position.
It’s a bold move, something the Browns have been afraid to make in the past. Why not pull the trigger now with a poker hand that seems to be showing all aces? That’s the multi-million dollar question for Dorsey and Co.
Then again, as we saw in the recent past, Cleveland finds a way to miss out on opportunities like this. Think. Jimmy. Garoppolo. Think the 49ers. And then come to the realization that it could happen all over again.
Let’s just hope for the sake of Browns fans the world over, that’s not the case.