Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. (13) is examined during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
- In the wake of an injury-plagued 2020 season, Odell Beckham Jr.’s future with the Cleveland browns has come into question
- OBJ has not equalled the epic numbers he produced early in his career, and has two seasons remaining on the record-setting contract he arrived with in Cleveland
- Here’s a look at how OBJ has performed and the best bets for where he will begin the 2021 NFL season
Following a disappointing 2020 NFL campaign in which he only played seven games due to injury, Odell Beckham Jr. faces an uncertain future with the Cleveland Browns. With the Browns facing a salary cap crunch, OBJ has become a hot topic in the trade rumor mill, with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers mentioned as a possible destination.
However, strong -240 odds favor the enigmatic wide receiver starting next season in Cleveland. Here’s a look at what teams might provide a fit for OBJ, as well as best bets on where the former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year will play in 2021.
Odds on Odell Beckham Jr’s Team in Week 1 of 2021
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+400|
|Green Bay Packers||+900|
|New England Patriots||+925|
|New York Jets||+1000|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+1600|
|San Francisco 49ers||+2000|
Odds as of March 1, 2021.
OBJ Fails to Fulfill Promise in Cleveland
It has been two years since OBJ arrived in Cleveland amid considerable fanfare, and it is now safe to say that things have not worked out as planned. While the 28-year-old was steady in his Dog Pound debut, he has failed to come close to the impressive stats that made him a star during his first three seasons with the New York Giants.
OBJ went down with a torn ACL during week 7.@drprovencher explains the injury and when we can expect him back on the field. pic.twitter.com/6Lz15wtroD
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 27, 2020
Hobbled by injury in his final two campaigns in the Big Apple, Beckham managed to appear in all 16 games during the 2019 season, compiling 1,035 receiving yards, but reaching the end zone on just four occasions. Indeed, the former LSU star’s shaky Browns debut made him the subject of trade speculation well before the end of the 2019 campaign.
Injuries, Age Catching Up to Former NFL OROY
Quarterback Baker Mayfield shouldered much of the blame for OBJ’s regression while enduring a tough campaign of his own in 2019. With so much invested in their prized receiver, trading him after just one season was never a realistic option, as was reflected in the odds at the time. B
ut with Beckham now coming off another injury-plagued campaign, could his time in Cleveland be done?
It’s so overlooked that Baker Mayfield lost Odell Beckham Jr. and still led the CLE to average 26 points a game.
Josh Allen without Stefon Diggs.
Aaron Rodgers without Davante Adams.
Patrick Mahomes without Tyreek Hill.
It would be treated as a national tragedy. pic.twitter.com/4VTOhkWhjF
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) February 16, 2021
OBJ was performing well short of his prolific career best when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 7 this past season. It is unlikely that too many tears would be shed should the Browns elect to rid themselves of their fading superstar.
Mayfield saw his stats dramatically improve in the wake of Beckham’s season-ending injury. The outspoken pivot averaged over 241 passing yards in nine outings without OBJ after averaging just 182.5 passing yards per game over the first six contests of the season.
Super Bowl 56 Odds Tracker
Bucs Mentioned as Possible Destination
One potential destination that has been mentioned is Tampa Bay, which is pegged as a +400 second-favorite to provide OBJ with a new home. Fresh off their first Super Bowl victory in a generation, the Bucs could find themselves with some downfield holes to fill as Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown get set to hit the free-agent market.
NFL rumors: Ex-Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. could join Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, insider says https://t.co/1e4Xj4ViKf pic.twitter.com/mZuBn0b61V
— NJ.com Sports (@NJ_Sports) February 11, 2021
As they demonstrated this season, the Buccaneers are not hesitant to take on aging players with big egos, and get the best out of them, which is likely the type of environment that OBJ could use. Considering the dismal state of their downfield corps, and the uncertain health status of aging star receiver Julian Edelman, the New England Patriots sport intriguing +925 to land Beckham.
Bloated Contract, League-Wide Frugality Make Move Unlikely
But reports indicate the Bucs are considering slapping Godwin with a franchise tag. And like so many teams, the Patriots face serious salary constraints in light of the expected drop in the salary cap for next season. Of course, there is also the issue of OBJ’s bloated contract. Two seasons still remain on the deal, with a $12.7 million salary for 2021 becoming guaranteed later this month, and the Browns unable to cut him due to his continued injured status.
While the Browns have no long-term obligations to Beckham with his contract unguaranteed beyond 2021, $12.8 million of his 2021 salary is now guaranteed because of his injury. That means they will likely prefer to trade him rather than release him outright.
— Eric👀Schefter (@EKaplan15) November 2, 2020
There is no shortage of quarterbacks expected to change address during this offseason. In addition, the list of veteran wide receivers that could come available on the free agent or trade markets could also include the likes of Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Juju Smith-Schuster.
With budget frugality expected to be a real thing this summer, and OBJ still recovering from his knee injury, it is tough to see any team taking a risk on him. That likely means the Browns are stuck with Beckham for at least one more season.
The Pick: Browns (-240)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.