The Browns are now must-watch television.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Cleveland Browns acquired Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants for a 1st and 3rd round picks in the upcoming draft, along with safety Jabrill Peppers, and Offensive Lineman Kevin Zeitler. The Browns also got Defensive Lineman Olivier Vernon in return (the original Vernon-Zeitler trade was re-worked to make the Odell trade possible). This sent obvious shockwaves through the NFL.
On the fun side, this move brings two former college teammates back together with OBJ and fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry. These two studs played together at LSU from 2011 to 2013 and both have very large personalities.
Combining these two personalities with the charisma of quarterback Baker Mayfield, and the controversial signing of running back Kareem Hunt, create an immensely dynamic locker room. These offseason moves have the opportunity to create a juggernaut of a football team…or a complete disaster. Oddsmakers have made them the fifth favorite at +1400 to win the Super Bowl, tied with the Los Angeles Chargers and the Chicago Bears.
One thing is for certain though, it will be a hell of a ride.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND OBJ
Beckham, the three-time Pro Bowler, will be entering his 6th NFL season this year when he joins the Cleveland Browns. If you throw out the 2017 season where he only played 4 games due to injury, he averages 94 receiving yards per game. This is second all-time in career yards per game to only Julio Jones. Beckham is clearly an elite wide receiver in the prime of his career. Adding this weapon to Mayfield’s arsenal should bring out the gunslinger in Baker, who was already 10th in the league in yards per pass completion last season, and allow him to get passes down the field.
The downside of Beckham is his off-the-field antics (and sometimes on-the-field) antics. In 2015, he had what was basically a brawl throughout the game with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. In 2016, he had a fight with a kicking net on the sideline, and lost. They did make up a few weeks later however, when he proposed to that same net after scoring a touchdown. In 2017, he went on an infamous party boat trip in Miami just six days before a playoff game. He followed up that boat trip with a dismal performance in that playoff game where he only had four catches for 28 yards and dropped three passes. Beckham has his good and his bad, but he is always entertaining and captures the media’s attention.
If there wasn’t already a spotlight on Cleveland because of Baker Mayfield’s own gravitational force, there is one now. And there will be for the entirety of the season.
HOW DOES OBJ FIT WITH THE BROWNS?
One big positive about Cleveland trying to harness Beckham’s potential is the presence of Jarvis Landry. The out-spoken receiver proved to be a leader on the field last season, and in the locker room if you watched HBO’s Hard Knocks last season. Jarvis and Odell are boys from college and have remained close while in the league. Jarvis should be able to keep Odell in check and Odell will respect Jarvis in a way he might not have respected the team leaders in New York. Baker also has a big personality himself and should be able to gain the respect of Odell pretty quickly. From a bird’s eye viewpoint, this just seems like a better place for OBJ to flourish compared to the rigid ecosystem of the New York Giants.
On the field, this Browns team will be loaded with talent and have the opportunity to be an explosive offense. They were 13th in the NFL last season in total offense. The addition of OBJ and Hunt (who will still have to serve a suspension that Cleveland can afford because Nick Chubb), along with adding a year of experience for Mayfield, should push this offense into the top-10 and maybe even into the top-5. According to the odds, the only teams that are outpacing the Browns are the big boys.
Updated Super Bowl XLIV Odds
Kansas City Chiefs +700
New England Patriots +700
Los Angeles Rams +800
New Orleans Saints +900
Chicago Bears +1400
Cleveland Browns +1400
Los Angeles Chargers +1400
Cleveland finally looks to have something to care about besides LeBron. This football team has the potential for disaster, sure, but even a disaster will be a lot of fun to watch. However, I believe that this team is going to be a legit title contender and will be America’s darling along the way. Betting in the NFL futures is all about becoming a stakeholder in a particular team. Tying yourself to these Cleveland Browns at +1400? That sounds like a ride worth buying a ticket for.
For once, the Browns seem to be making all the right moves. Let’s just hope they’ve done historically, and find a way to screw this up.
Jeremy Jones is a contributing, freelance writer to BetAmerica Sportsbook.