For the first time since 2007, the Cleveland Browns have won nine games. They are 9-3 through Week 13 and find themselves within shouting distance of the AFC North, only two games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns have impressed all season long, but the turning point of their 2020 campaign came early in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals when star WR Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL. To read more about how the Browns could adjust without him, read this article from lastwordonsports.com. While this injury is unfortunate, QB Baker Mayfield has played significantly better since that point, which leads to the thinking that the Browns do not need Beckham especially at his cap hit. Before diving into the financial aspect of moving on from the former All-Pro receiver, it is important to look at the cold hard facts. Here’s why the Browns must move on from Odell Beckham.
Why The Browns Must Move On From Odell Beckham
Baker Mayfield’s Performance
This season, in the six full games Beckham played in, Mayfield completed just over 60% of his passes, throwing 10 TDs and 6 INTs, while having a passer rating of 84.3. During this stretch, the Browns went 4-2. Since Week 7, the Browns have gone 5-1, and Mayfield has completed nearly 65% of his passes, throwing 11 TDs and just 1 INT, posting an astonishing 112.7 passer rating. This hot streak of performances was capped by his showing against the Tennessee Titans, where he led the Browns to a 41-35 victory on the road. Clearly, not only has Mayfield excelled without Beckham, the Browns have improved as well. Now, onto the financial benefits of moving on from Beckham.
The Financial Benefits of Moving On
According to spotrac.com, Cleveland will save $45.75M from 2021-2023 if they trade Beckham before June 1, 2021. However, if they cut him before that date, they will eat a dead cap hit of $12.79M for the 2021 season but will save $32.95 from 2021-2023. Overall, it makes more sense to trade him, but if the Browns can’t find a partner, cutting Beckham would not be the end of the world. Cleveland also needs to pay RB Nick Chubb who is under contract through 2021, CB Denzel Ward, and the aforementioned Mayfield. Chubb and Mayfield will both be under contract through 2022, assuming both of their 5th-year options are picked up. Chubb and Ward are both premier players at their positions, so it is likely they will command big money, and Mayfield plays the game’s most important position, so he will likely seek a large contract. Thus, the Browns will need to save all the money they can in order to complete these transactions in the future.
The Current Situation
In terms of Odell Beckham, he has not performed at the level the Browns envisioned when they traded the 17th and 96th picks in the 2019 draft and SAF Jabrill Peppers for him. Beckham is averaging 4.2 catches per game, over two and a half less than the 6.6 catches per game he averaged as a member of the New York Giants. More noteworthy though, is the decline in yards per game from 92.8 for the Giants down to 58.9 for the Browns. It is safe to say the Odell Beckham in Cleveland experiment has not panned out, and the Browns need to move on. For the betterment of their quarterback and their franchise.