OBJ in Cleveland was a shot gun marriage

Stuart Grant

Odell Beckham Jr.Wikimedia Commons

Now that Odell Beckham Jr has secured his release from the Cleveland Browns, it's time to unpack what has been a strangely ill-fitting tenure. Beckham was acquired during the John Dorsey regime along with ex-Giant Olivier Vernon for Cleveland's 2019 first and third round draft picks. Dorsey had fully invested himself on taking University of Oklahoma's quarterback Baker Mayfield at number one overall in 2018 on the heels of an 0 - 16 season.

As if often the case with GMs who are under fire, the move was aggressive, glamourous and splashy. The Browns have not had a big market star of Beckham's magnitude since returning to the NFL after Art Modell's relocation to Baltimore. The Beckham and Mayfield combination held great promise on paper.

Dorsey wasn't going to stake his fortunes on a coach he didn't hire and certainly not one who had gone 0 - 16 the previous year. Hue Jackson was fired after starting 2019 at 2-5-1 in Mayfield's first season. But instead of going external with his next head coaching hire, Dorsey opted for Browns Offensive Coordinator Freddie Kitchens. It is understandable that Dorsey wanted to bring Mayfield along with a familiar face but Kitchens proved unprepared for the task and was fired after going 6 - 10 in a season that saw Mayfield's interceptions (21) almost exceed his total touchdowns (22).

One thing players cannot control is internal organizational discord. The Browns have had plenty of it. While the Stefanski/Berry era holds promise it was too late for the Mayfield/Beckham combination. Beckham recorded his only 1000+ yard season in Cleveland under Kitchens in 2019. The Stefanski era ushered in a power running attack anchored by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt bolstered by a stingy hard hitting defense. This led to Cleveland's first playoff victory since 1994.

These organizational changes combined with Beckham's injuries conspired to bring his time as a Brown to an anticlimactic end. Beckham was injured after week 7 in 2020 and did not return to the field for the playoffs. As he was acquired during the John Dorsey era, the current regime has no stake in his remaining a Brown.

His father Odell Beckham Sr has posted video clips on social media intended to show that Mayfield fails to get his son the ball. It is clear that under Stefanski, Mayfield is not being asked to carry the team on his shoulders. It would appear that only a playoff run can secure Mayfield's continuation as Cleveland's starter. Beckham Jr. won't be around to be a part of it.

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