The Cleveland Browns are in disarray. Winners in just four of their first eight contests, the Dawg Pound currently sits in last place in the ultra-competitive AFC North. Injuries have largely contributed to the disappointment of the campaign up to this point, and the last thing this Browns team needs is a self-inflicted distraction. Unfortunately for all parties involved, a major issue is currently ongoing between the front office and star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Earlier this week, Beckham's father, Odell Beckham Sr., posted a video that highlighted quarterback Baker Mayfield's inability to throw the football to Beckham despite his capacity to get himself open on several occasions. The fallout has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. A follow-up tweet from basketball superstar LeBron James appears to have drawn an extra amount of unwanted attention to the situation. The Browns did not appreciate either event and signaled their general disdain by excusing Beckham from practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday. The relationship between Beckham, Mayfield, general manager Andrew Berry, and head coach Kevin Stefanski has now reached a boiling point.
Needless to say, Cleveland has placed themselves in a precarious environment. The deadline for the Browns to trade Beckham passed them by earlier this week, and they’ve now further caused damage to an already rocky relationship. It leaves Berry and Stefanski with few solutions at a crucial part of their season.
If they outright release Beckham, it would subject and expose the three-time Pro Bowl receiver to the waiver claims process. Should they go this route and a team happens to claim Beckham, which some teams may seriously consider, the new team would inherit his contract which currently runs through the 2023 campaign. His new team would be on the hook for the remainder of his 2021 salary (a hefty $8.05 million). Beckham is scheduled to carry a cap hit of $15 million in 2022 and 2023 while earning $13.75 million in salary on an annual basis, although neither 2022 or 2023 are guaranteed at this juncture. It’s worth noting there is no dead money or guaranteed salary on Beckham’s contract for the next two years.
Should Beckham get released outright and go unclaimed on waivers, Cleveland would pay him the $8.05 million still owed to him in 2021. Beckham would be allowed to join a new club of his choosing immediately, effectively allowing him to double-dip by collecting a salary from a new team while also collecting his termination pay from Cleveland.
Cleveland must now reach a resolution. Continuing to excuse Beckham from practice is a band-aid solution that qualifies as detrimental. Outright releasing him while failing to receive anything in exchange for his services would also qualify as a catastrophic outcome. They must make amends with their disgruntled receiver and welcome him back into the locker room.
When weighing the pros and cons of ridding themselves of Beckham and this toxic situation, releasing him has far too many negative wide-ranging implications that not only hurts them financially, but competitively as well. If the Browns want to rid themselves of a headache they’ve largely created in recent days due to their gross mishandling of the situation, then so be it, but they’d be doing a disservice to nobody but themselves.