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3 reasons why Cleveland Browns should trade Odell Beckham Jr.

Jeff Lange/Akron Beacon Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Coming off a season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cleveland Browns will be without star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for a second consecutive game.

Beckham Jr. is still trying to make it back from the torn ACL he suffered seven games in to the 2020 NFL season. It’s somewhat surprising that OBJ has taken so long to return from said injury, especially given the fact that he was seemingly set to play Week 1.

With pretty much a must-win game coming up against the Houston Texans, Cleveland is now going to have to rely on other pass-catchers to do their thing. Meanwhile, there’s now a real question about whether Odell Beckham Jr. makes sense as a long-term fit in Cleveland.

Since being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants ahead of the 2019 season, the three-time Pro Bowler has seen his production take a major hit.

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Odell Beckham Jr. stats

Odell Beckham Jr. cleveland browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
  • With New York Giants: 92.8 yards per game, 62.7% catch rate
  • With Cleveland Browns: 58.9 yards per game, 55.1% catch rate

No one can really blame Baker Mayfield for this lack of production. In fact, the quarterback has been much better with Beckham Jr. not on the field. It really is surprising. That leads us to our first reason why the Browns should opt to move off Beckham Jr. in a trade once he’s fully cleared from the knee injury.

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Baker Mayfield is better without Odell Beckham Jr.

cleveland browns odell beckham, baker mayfield
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the past 10 games dating back to when Beckham Jr. missed his first outing against the Las Vegas Raiders last November, Mayfield is completing 65% of his passes and has thrown 11 touchdowns against two interceptions for a 99.9 rating.

In the 23 games that Mayfield and OBJ have suited up together, the former No. 1 pick has tossed 37 touchdowns against 28 interceptions for an 83.0 rating. Cleveland is 11-12 in those 23 games compared to 6-4 when Odell doesn’t play.

It’s hard to explain why Mayfield has struggled more with Beckham Jr. in the game compared to when the wide receiver is sidelined. But the sample size is large enough. If Cleveland does in fact view Mayfield as its franchise quarterback, he might very well be better off without OBJ on the field.

Cleveland Browns have other options

cleveland browns wide receiver anthony schwartz
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not like Cleveland is lacking from a skill-position perspective. Rookie third-round pick Anthony Schwartz played exceedingly well in his regular-season debut against the Kansas City Chiefs, catching 3-of-5 targets for 69 yards while adding a 17-yard run to the mix. He did this in all of 31 snaps on offense. Imagine what the Auburn product might be able to do with more playing time moving forward.

Obviously, this doesn’t even take int account the presence of No. 1 receiver Jarvis Landry as well as tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku.

In particular, Landry has been solid since Cleveland acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins ahead of the 2018 season. He’s been better than OBJ, and it’s not necessarily close. That includes Landry catching 61.3% of his targets with the Browns.

With a running back duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt mixed in, the Browns’ skill positions are just fine without Odell Beckham Jr. At this point, he’s more of a luxury.

Salary cap savings by trading Odell Beckham Jr.

Finances are important for the Browns after hey handed Chubb a lucrative long-term extension and with Mayfield set to cash in big time on an extension of his own following the 2021 NFL season.

While the Browns likely won’t get a whole lot for OBJ in a trade, moving off him would save a whopping $15 million against the cap in both 2022 and 2023. Sure it would created a $15.75 million dead cap hit this season, but he’s pretty much dead weight right now anyway.

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