Browns are doing the right thing by hanging on to Odell Beckham

The Browns have made a lot of questionable personnel decisions over the years, but resisting the temptation to deal Odell Beckham is the right call.

There’s a strong chance that the football marriage between Odell Beckham and the Cleveland Browns is ultimately going to fail. It’s still too early for Cleveland’s front office to give up on the mercurial wide receiver.

A flurry of rumors broke earlier this week claiming the Vikings and Browns were locked in negotiations on a trade that would send Beckham to Minnesota. Cleveland’s front office came out later to flatly deny those reports, but it’s unclear what actually happened. No matter what, keeping Beckham for at least one more season is the right move for the franchise.

The most important question for the Browns to answer this season is whether or not they can place their faith in Baker Mayfield as their franchise quarterback of both the present and future. They can’t get the answer to that question without surrounding him with the talent he needs to succeed in 2020.

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The organization deserves credit for spending big in free agency to land Austin Hooper and Jack Conklin. Hooper will give Mayfield a more dynamic threat at the tight end position than he’s ever had the chance to work with as a professional. More importantly, Conklin will help keep the former Oklahoma quarterback upright more often this season.

Trading a dramatic, yet super talented weapon like Beckham would undo all of the Browns’ good work. He’s the deep threat that creates space for every other offensive weapon the team has.

Subtracting Beckham from the wide receiver room would thrust Jarvis Landry into the uncomfortable role of being Mayfield’s No. 1 wideout. He’s simply not good enough to handle that level of responsibility. Landry racks up catches, but he doesn’t scare anyone down the field. At best, he’s a reasonable No. 2 wide receiver who can keep the chains moving with his sure hands. His value drops off a cliff without a star like Beckham to draw double teams from the opposing secondary.

Beckham’s ability to keep safeties in the deep third of the field also prevents opponents from stacking the box against the Browns run game. It’s unclear how much losing him would decrease Nick Chub’s production. He wouldn’t take as large of a hit as Landry, but he might look a lot more ordinary without Beckham on the field.

The simple truth for the Browns is that Beckham’s upside still makes him worth the headache for the coaching staff. That may not make Kevin Stefanski’s life any easier in 2020, but it will increase the potential number of wins that Cleveland can garner for their first year head coach.

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More importantly, keeping Beckham is the right play for a team that needs to find out exactly what they have in Baker Mayfield. If this season doesn’t work for the Browns, both of them may be on the trade block next offseason. Bet on Mayfield and Beckham finding a way to make it work.

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