Stephen A. Smith believes Odell Beckham Jr. could thrive if he went to the Packers, Rams, or Chiefs. (1:55).
BEREA, Ohio -- Week 9 of the 2019 season was upon us and Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns quarterback, decided to go for it. With 3:23 remaining, it was the fourth quarter against Denver Broncos. It was the end of the Browns' season, one that had been so hyped and hoped for after Odell Beckham Jr.'s blockbuster trade in the offseason. It was fourth-and-4 and Beckham ran past Denver cornerback Chris Harris. OBJ was open.
Mayfield briefly considered his options. Mayfield instead of throwing, double-clutched. He then turned to the middle and forced Jarvis Landry to make a pass that was incomplete. Their season was effectively ended when the Browns fell to 2-6.
Beckham was clearly furious at not being able to grab the ball in such an important moment. In the days and hours that followed, Mayfield was constantly panned. Why didn't Beckham throw it at him? Especially since OBJ was open.
But Beckham took the wrong path. Or, to put it another manner, his own path.
One source said that Baker looked confused because of this. "That was the way it was throughout the year, which was frustrating."
Beckham and Mayfield tried to make their connection on the field over the next two seasons. They spent hours throwing passes together. They went on trips together. They played together video games.
However, things didn't change much.
Their fraught relationship on the field eventually led to a breakup.
Friday's announcement by the Browns was that Beckham would be released.
Andrew Berry, Browns general manager, stated in a statement that Odell has been removed from the Cleveland Browns after careful consideration and internal discussions. We appreciate his contributions to Cleveland but have reached a point that it is better for us to move on as a team without Odell. Odell is being released. We are closing the deal and wish him all the best as he pursues his career.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Browns converted Beckham's salary base into a signing bonus in order to lower Beckham's cap number. This was done to make money. Beckham will be released once the contract has been finalized. Beckham cannot be claimed on waivers before next week.
Beckham's release marks the end of a hectic week in Cleveland that saw him facing off against the team's quarterback.
Beckham's father uploaded a video to social media Tuesday morning, hours before the NFL trade deadline. It highlighted all the times Mayfield didn’t throw Beckham’s way or miss him when he was open. Odell Beckham Sr. also attacked Mayfield in the comments.
Odell Beckham Jr. did not publicly discredit his father's remarks. He also didn't call Mayfield private.
How could a partnership with so much promise turn so disastrously and cause so much damage?
"This has nothing to do with anything else on the field"
Beckham Jr. and Mayfield had an excellent off-the-field relationship before Tuesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Beckham brought with him a tradition from his time with the New York Giants to his Browns training camp. He sat with different groups of players at each meal at the cafeteria.
"I talk with everybody in this locker room. I talk to everyone in the weight room. Beckham stated that he talks to everyone. "You have to get to know the people you're battling with. We are the only ones out there when the whistle blows. These are men. These are guys.
This routine was noticed by many. Other gestures were also noticed.
Beckham gave every Browns player a pair of Nike Air Max 720 sneakers before his first game. Beckham did the same thing for Cleveland's equipment, and training staff.
Beckham invited his Browns teammates to his house in the town of Browns Training Facility to pick up whatever shoes or clothes they want from his closet.
One source in the NFL said that Odell is "cool" in the entire room, which refers to the locker room.
Beckham's goodwill over the past two seasons was evident even after his father tore the quarterback.
Safety John Johnson III stated Thursday that he felt like the majority in this locker room would love for him to be here -- flat-out.
This is why Mayfield found this week shocking. Beckham Sr. also made the video. Beckham Jr.'s silence.
One source close to Mayfield said that the most bizarre part of this situation was that they are friends. It wasn't perfect, but it was close. It was never strain."
The two of them were playing video games together just a few weeks ago. Mayfield and Beckham Jr. flew to Big Sky in Montana on Labor Day weekend, just before the start the season.
Beckham flew to California in the summer 2019 for Mayfield's nuptials. Beckham and Mayfield met for the first time at training camp. Beckham repeatedly asked Beckham to hug her mother.
Another source said that "This has nothing to do with anything off-the-field, which is why its all so perplexing." "I don’t know of any incident that has ever [come between] the two of them off the field." This is all about the field.
It was not just about the field this week. Beckham's silence was enough.
"I was quite surprised by the video, the intentions and the emotions behind it. Mayfield stated Wednesday that he would lie if he said otherwise. "I thought that we had an open line of communication."
"About a quarter off"
Play 0:40 Ninkovich likes Pats for OBJ if he is released Rob Ninkovich shares some thoughts about potential landing spots to Odell Beckham Jr. if they release the star WR.
In Cleveland, there was a lot of anticipation for Mayfield's and Beckham’s first training camp together on Saturday, 2019. Browns fans poured into the bleachers surrounding the practice fields to see the spectacle.
In 2018, Mayfield broke the NFL rookie record by completing 27 touchdown passes. Cleveland finally saw the potential in Mayfield, the flag-planting and trash-talking former Heisman Trophy recipient and No. 1. Overall pick.
On March 12, John Dorsey, then general manager, traded Beckham for the Giants in a massive deal. Cleveland's expectations were transformed by the Beckham trade, which saw Beckham become a star player and a favorite in AFC North.
However, the first training camp was a sign of trouble to come.
Mayfield rushed out of the pocket after a failed play on Saturday with his eyes glued downfield. Beckham was the only one of his receivers to turn back and make a move towards him.
Failure to Connect Baker Mayfield has overthrown Odell Bettham Jr. or taken him down on 27% of his passes. This is the third-highest rate ever since 2019. Category Stat NFL Rank << QBR 58 57th Comp pct 55% 59th Off-tgt pct 27% 60th >> Among 62 QB-receiver duos
"Work the scramble drill!" Mayfield shouted in dismay, and spiked the ball.
The crowd that had come to watch Mayfield throw Beckham touchdowns was stunned. After only a few seconds Christian Kirksey, then-Browns' linebacker, broke the silence and shouted to the crowd, "That's what happens when defense wins."
Beckham and Mayfield later downplayed the unpleasant sequence.
Beckham said later that day that "once we get on the right page", "it's going to be scary."
Browns backup quarterback Case Keenum marveled at Mayfield's chemistry with Landry, connecting on routes that were not in the playbook. Keenum stated that he had an instant rapport in Minnesota with Vikings receiver Adam Thielen. However, with All-Pro Stefon Diggs, the chemistry wasn't so easy.
Keenum stated this year that some duos require a lot of communication and work, while others are a simple nod. But I do feel that some of the ones that took the longest to complete were worth it.
"With Baker, Odell, it's coming."
It has never happened.
Beckham was still not able to get Mayfield the ball. Beckham couldn't reach the places Mayfield required him to.
This was evident in the video's opening highlight, which Beckham Sr. uploaded.
The Browns appeared to be on the verge putting away the Vikings in the fourth quarter of Week 4. Mayfield believed Beckham would abandon his route. Beckham saw the coverage in a different way. Beckham continued running, seeing only green turf ahead of him. It was too late. Mayfield had already thrown the ball. The result was embarrassingly underthrow.
Mayfield stated that Mayfield was able to see Beckham's vision to give it some oxygen. "About a quarter off a second," Mayfield added.
These quarter-second misses are starting to pile up.
Over their time together, Mayfield underthrew or overthrew Beckham on 27% of his attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the third-highest rate of any quarterback-receiving duo in the league.
Mayfield is far more adept at throwing the ball than anyone. Beckham's QBR over the last three seasons is 58 (scale from 0-to-100). It is 85.2 for all Browns wide receivers.
One former Browns source claimed that Odell is always in his head and Mayfield is pressing whenever Beckham is around. "Odell throws it off. It gets all f---ed-up from there, because Baker becomes indecisive."
The Denver game in 2019 was only one of many flashpoints.
Beckham was supposed to meet Landry in the middle of the field. This mesh idea could have potentially freed one of them from the first down. Mayfield was unsure where Beckham was heading, so he turned around.
Beckham could have scored the winning touchdown if Beckham had another quarterback. Mayfield might have converted the first down with another receiver.
Sunday's final passing play was a truly memorable one.
With 2:57 left to play, Mayfield spotted Beckham sprinting down the right hash towards the end zone. Mayfield hesitated and then double-clutched. Beckham was able to throw the ball to Mayfield again. The pass went off target. Beckham only put one arm in the air. The ball fell incompletely.
Another failure. This effectively ends a relationship.
It's better apart
Beckham Jr. was unable to form an on-field relationship with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
Beckham and Mayfield may have been worth millions of dollars each.
After three disappointing seasons in Cleveland, Beckham won't likely be able to command a large contract the next time he goes on the market. For a reason, the Browns failed to trade Beckham before Tuesday's trade deadline.
According to sources, Mayfield has not yet received an extension offer from Browns. However, he is still under contract until 2022.
Perhaps the two of them can now start rebuilding their careers after being separated.
Beckham sustained a season-ending knee injury last year. Mayfield was unable to return.
Beckham was hurt in Week 7. Mayfield, however, went on to complete 21 consecutive passes for the franchise. He also threw five touchdown passes to win the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. From Week 7 to Week 15, Mayfield ranked third in QBR in the league, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, who were back-to-back MVPs.
Mayfield led the Browns to their 26th consecutive playoff win.
Beckham has proven that despite his lack of production, it is possible to still be open. Beckham will soon be able to choose an offensive system that suits his skill set, one that doesn't rely on spreading the ball and multiple tight ends.
On Wednesday, it was clear that Beckham's stay in Cleveland was over. Mayfield, however, left the door open to a reconciliation.
He said, "I'm ready to do whatever," "If he's there, we can work it out and do what it takes. Because I only care about winning, I'm able to let my pride and ego go.
They had already proven they could not win together.
Perhaps they can now be apart.