Since finishing the year 7-8-1, the Cleveland Browns fan base have been absolutely gitty to get to the off-season. With 10 draft picks on deck, a boatload of cap space, and a franchise QB in place, John Dorsey had all the ammunition and desire to not only upgrade the team, but upgrade them in a big way. Whatever he said at the combine about “not being ready to go for it“, has proven to be a lie-a lie that he needed to say, as Dorsey loves to work behind a very tight wall, in order for rumors to not leak out. Having made some key trades last year, there was no doubt that John Dorsey and company would look to make yet another big move via trade. The big trade they made, however, makes last years moves look minuscule compared to what they have pulled off this off-season. He not only landed a trade, but he landed The Trade.
From the start of the off-season, the rumors of Odell Beckham Jr. becoming a Brown would not go away. They even started last year, as Beckham was seen working out with one of his best friends, Jarvis Landry, and #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. There was an image going around of Odell holding onto a Cleveland Browns football, logo and all. Even after Beckham signed his brand new 5 year, $90 million contract extension with the Giants, the rumblings of him being traded would not completely go away. Even when Dave Gettleman said, “We did not sign Odell Beckham Jr. to trade him“, the rumors just would not die. Some say the trade happened because the Giants were tired of Odell’s on field behavior- the pouting and antics were not viewed very fondly of Pat Shurmer. Some say that Dorsey just got lucky that he and Gettleman had been friends for years, which helped move the conversation along. Some even say that the Browns fan base willed it into existence. Whatever the case may be, the Browns landed their #1 target.
The on-field and off-field distractions (albeit blown out of proportion) are widely reported. This is something that I think will not be any sort of concern for the Browns. Along with new head coach Freddie Kitchens being a player-friendly type of coach, Beckham will be surrounded by familiar faces- Landry and Mayfield are the obvious two, but Adam Henry could be a very key part to bringing Beckham in. They have a very long relationship, as Henry was not only the WR coach at LSU, where Beckham and Landry attended college, but was also the WR coach for the Giants from 2016-2017. The fact that Odell will not only be playing with a good QB (he hasn’t for a few years), but a good team, will be a huge contributor to his “better” attitude here moving forward.
In terms of his play, Beckham is a perfect fit. If there was one thing the WR group needed, it was a #1 WR. You have Landry as an effective slot who can get open in underneath routes. You have a speed burner in Callaway, who showed flashes of being a good deep threat. You have the fundamental route running of Higgins, who won’t blow you away with speed or strength, but has very good route running and a great relationship with Baker. Beckham is, at worst, a top 5 WR in the NFL. His route running is crisp, his hands have gorilla glue on them, and he has mini-trampoline’s on his feet. The slant route from Baker to Odell could become one of the deadliest combinations in the entire league. Although you will notice the lack of amazing catches from Beckham this year, it won’t be due to a drop off of talent- rather, he won’t have to make these insane catches with Baker putting the ball right where Beckham needs it.
For what is going back to the Giants, seeing Peppers leave hurts the most. Peppers graded very well according to Pro Football Focus. His first year Peppers to seem like a bust, as he was playing out of position the entire year. Going into his 2nd year, however, the team acquired Damarious Randall, which then moved Peppers to his original spot of Strong Safety (SS). This allowed Peppers to get closer to the line and make plays, which he showed in the Denver game with a game sealing sack in the 4th quarter. The #17 and #95 pick could turn out to be starters or key contributors, but with Gettleman’s draft history as less than stellar, there is a good chance that only one of these players turns into a key contributor to a team that is desperate for talent.
Overall, Dorsey played his cards close to his chest, looked Gettleman dead in his eyes, and got him to deal his best card without giving up much from his hand. The fit of Beckham on this team, who has developed a swagger since the firing of Hue Jackson, along with a fan base that has been waiting for decades to have a competitive football team, are primed to take the next step towards the promised land. There is a possibility that things don’t go smoothly for the Browns. Maybe Beckham’s injuries continue to pile up. Maybe Peppers takes that next step, and the Giants hit on both of those picks. Maybe Beckham does have attitude issues, and those clash with the core of talent the Browns already have collected. But this move was the perfect risk. The Browns didn’t empty the cupboard, looking for someone to save the franchise. Instead, they gave 3 decent pieces for a superstar who will complete the offense. I have been a huge Sash Brown defender, but one thing is very clear to me- Brown would have NEVER had the package to complete this trade with the Giants. This is Dorsey showing once and for all, that he is go big or go home.