BEREA, Ohio — Can’t wait to see who wants a quitter.
There will be someone who covets still talented three-time Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr., although there was little evidence of that in six games this season.
With an agreement reached Friday that will result in Beckham being officially waived Monday, someone will claim him off waivers or sign the wide receiver who gave up on quarterback Baker Mayfield, was disgruntled with coach Kevin Stefanski’s play-calling, and compromised his close friend Jarvis Landry’s chances for playoff success.
Who dissed his team, basically saying they aren’t good enough to win a Super Bowl and forced his way out so he could have a better chance of winning the Lombardi Trophy.
Who threw his locker room into disarray, with safety John Johnson III saying Thursday that the majority of the players wanted Beckham to stay, lending credence to the notion that the Browns were choosing sides between Mayfield and Beckham.
Who was going through the motions when he attended Mayfield’s offseason workout in Austin, Texas, who went to Montana on Labor Day weekend with Mayfield, Landry, and tight end Austin Hooper but couldn’t or wouldn’t break the ice in his frosty relationship with the quarterback.
Who wasn’t willing to give Mayfield a pass for playing with a completely torn labrum and fractured humerus in his left shoulder, focused only on the times Mayfield failed to get him the ball when he was open.
Who couldn’t get over being traded by the New York Giants to Cleveland.
Who didn’t embrace Northeast Ohio and its fan base like those he worked alongside, likely because it was too far from the spotlight he craved.
Beckham was never a fit and it was time to move on, with the Browns announcing Friday that they will soon waive Beckham. Such selfishness has no place in what general manager Andrew Berry and Stefanski are trying to build.
Give Berry and Stefanski credit for attempting to make it work, for trying to understand Beckham’s complex personality and give him what he needed, for putting up with his never-ending drama.
Trying to assign blame seems pointless because there is much to go around.
It starts with former Browns GM John Dorsey, sucked into the March 2019 deal in which the Browns took on Beckham’s five-year, $90 million contract that still had $8.3 million guaranteed as of Friday. Like many others, Dorsey was so blinded by Beckham’s aura that he ignored his baggage and the start of Beckham’s litany of injuries, with his ACL repair on Nov. 10, 2020 his third surgery in a four-year span.
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The question now is how the Browns deal with the collateral damage of the Beckham saga. It exploded Tuesday morning when Odell Beckham Sr. posted a video on Instagram of times his son has been open and Mayfield failed to find him, and was followed up by LeBron James’ #FreeOBJ tweet.
Do the Browns who wanted Beckham to stay doubt that Mayfield is the quarterback of the future?
Will Mayfield return to his 2020 post-OBJ torn ACL form, freed of the burden of getting Beckham the ball?
Has Stefanski’s poor play-calling this season, especially his inability to incorporate Beckham into the offense, raised questions in players’ minds about the capability of the reigning NFL Coach of the Year?
Can the locker room leaders pull the Browns together to salvage a 4-4 season, with all their goals still in front of them?
Will Landry, the Browns’ heart and soul, be hurt by what transpired with his friend and former Louisiana State teammate, whom he met when he was 16?
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As intelligent, insightful and magnetic as Beckham is, the Browns had to cast aside a supreme quitter. His primary impact in his three years with the Browns — aside from his three-touchdown day at Dallas in 2020 — came in the form of distractions like designer watches, clown shoes and slapping the rear of a security guard in the LSU locker room after his school’s 2019 national championship victory.
Beckham’s seemingly orchestrated plan could backfire if he ends up being claimed on Tuesday by a non-contender. A source confirmed Friday night that the settlement wiped out the final two non-guaranteed years on Beckham’s contract, but he will still be owed $7.25 million. According to ESPN, only nine teams have that much cap space, including Jacksonville (1-6), Philadelphia (3-5) and Washington (2-6).
Beckham hopes to clear waivers and pick his destination as a free agent, playing with the likes of quarterbacks Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. If he ends up with Stafford and the Rams, Beckham will be toasting in James’ Brentwood wine cellar any day now.
Beckham’s actions and those of his inner circle showed he had little faith in the Browns, which includes the coaches, the front office, his teammates, and his close friend. Even with their season on the brink Sunday in Cincinnati, they can still prove him wrong.