It seems Odell Beckham Jr. and the Cleveland Browns are heading for a divorce. After the team was unable to trade the star player ahead of yesterday's deadline, multiple reports popped up today that Beckham was told to not report to practice. More news later emerged that Kevin Stefanski told Browns players that OBJ isn't part of the team any longer. The wideout is discussing the next step with general manager Andrew Berry.
It seems very likely the Browns will cut Beckham Jr. in some capacity. Cutting him outright would mean Cleveland has to eat his $8 million salary this year as dead cap, which it does not want to do. But no team was interested in taking on that salary, as shown by the lack of movement at the deadline.
What will probably happen is this: OBJ agrees to give back some of that money in order to be released, like a buyout in the NBA. Then he'll go through waivers and won't be claimed because no contenders have the cap space to take on his contract up front. Then, and only then, will OBJ become a free agent.
Once that happens, where will he go? Here are four options.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have needed receiving help for... a while. Their offseason spending spree did not really address that particular position. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers are all great complementary wideouts but are not No. 1 options. Enter OBJ. He gets his shot at winning games while acting as the centerpiece of the passing game due to the complete lack of other options who can consistently separate. The issue primarily lies in Bill Belichick's distaste for players who are "distractions" and the complicated playbook New England employs. But if both sides are interested, they'll work it out quickly.
This might be a tougher sell for Beckham Jr. since Russell Wilson probably won't be back for another two weeks and the Seahawks do not look like Super Bowl contenders. But Pete Carroll and John Schneider have never once shied away from a potential bargain, and that's what OBJ is. Adding him to the DK Metcalf/Tyler Lockett core creates a very talented receiving group that can threaten all three levels of the defense. And if OBJ has been watching Seattle over the last few years, he knows Wilson has no problem heaving the ball up and letting his receivers make plays.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL and it won't get better after news broke today that Michael Thomas would miss all of this season due to a setback in his ankle rehab. Obviously the loss of Jameis Winston wouldn't appeal very much to Beckham Jr. but playing for Sean Payton certainly would. Payton knows how to get the ball into the hands of his talented players, which is something Cleveland failed to do with OBJ throughout his tenure. If Beckham Jr. wants to go to a place where his talent is both appreciated and utilized above all else, New Orleans is near the top of the list.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams, as we've known for years and were reminded of yesterday, are in perpetual win-now mode. If OBJ is willing to sign on the cheap to join the league's most electric offense while living in Los Angeles, this is a perfect fit. Sean McVay is like Sean Payton in that he can and will scheme up plays specifically to get Beckham Jr. the ball. Matthew Stafford would be far and away the best QB he's ever played with. The Rams aren't going to go out of their way to sign OBJ, since they're doing pretty well without him right now, but if he wants to come? That'll be an offensive explosion for the ages.