The Cleveland Browns traded their soul, a boatload of draft picks, and nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to secure a new starting quarterback in the form of Deshaun Watson and his 22 civil lawsuits. They still have Baker Mayfield on the roster, but he's obviously going to be shipped somewhere else eventually.
His imminent departure has led to rumors springing up that Odell Beckham Jr., still a free agent after tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl, may be interested in returning to Cleveland. OBJ, if you'll recall, ended his tenure with the Browns in a rather messy manner involving his father and an Instagram video. We the people never got any official, on-the-record confirmation that the star wideout had problems with the starting QB but it's not hard to reach that conclusion when taking everything into account.
Mayfield, though, is all but gone. The Browns will be replacing him with a QB far better on the field. In fact, with Watson under center, the Browns could be a very good team indeed. This is why team insider Mary Kate Cabot penned a report that OBJ has not "slammed the door shut" on a possible reunion, and why defensive back John Johnson said on Instagram that he was returning.
The man himself spoke on the matter less than a week ago. The wideout believes the proposition to be "interesting."
So would he do it? Would Beckham Jr. return to Cleveland?
The keen-eyed reader will note that Cabot's article didn't think a reunion was very likely. This makes sense because, even now, there is great uncertainty surrounding the organization. Watson will be facing discipline of some sort from the NFL for violating the personal conduct policy before the season begins. The fact that he and the Browns renegotiated his contract so he wouldn't suffer much financial loss if he got suspended in 2022 is proof that both player and team expect something to come down from on high. Then there is the tiny legal matter that came up today-- a second grand jury in a separate county in Texas will consider bringing Watson up on criminal charges, which would change the ballgame entirely.
OBJ can't really afford that sort of uncertainty at this point. He rehabbed his image in his half-season spent in Los Angeles, but any tangible progress there was lost when he got hurt again. His torn ACL will force him to miss at least some time to start the season and we'll be deep into the fall before he's in game shape. Next offseason likely represents the 29-year-old's best and last chance at a big payday. Signing with Cleveland before any of the dust really settles is more likely to hamstring his efforts in that regard than give him a boost.
Could OBJ return? Absolutely. If he likes the city enough and believes Watson will get him his money, he won't hesitate. But that is far from a sure thing. It's more likely Beckham Jr. bides his time and sees how things unfold later in the offseason before choosing a place to go. The Watson situation will probably remain murky until training camp-- and by then, OBJ will have had to make a decision.
Sorry, Browns fans. But it doesn't seem likely to happen.