BEREA — When receiver Odell Beckham Jr. joined the Browns in 2019, he was supposed to make spectacular one-handed catches, take over games and transform the offense.
He provided a few highlights and a couple of big games in 2½ years, but spent much of his tenure injured, frustrated and not nearly as productive as expected.
General manager Andrew Berry ended the failed experiment Friday, announcing he will release Beckham.
“I don’t think anyone envisioned when the organization traded for Odell three years ago that this would really be the resolution,” said Berry, who wasn’t with the Browns when GM John Dorsey acquired Beckham from the Giants. “It’s unfortunate, but at the same time there are some situations in the NFL where things just don’t quite work out.
“I do want to say that Odell is a good person who really brings special energy in the building and developed a lot of really strong relationships with teammates, staff members, coaches and we really do want all parties to emerge from this successfully. Those decisions are incredibly difficult, but it’s the decision that I felt was appropriate for our team.”
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) November 5, 2021
The situation came to a head this week following social media criticism of quarterback Baker Mayfield from Odell Beckham Sr., including sharing a video of Beckham repeatedly running open and Mayfield not throwing to him or missing him, and the passing of the trade deadline. But Berry said things had been simmering for a while.
“To be honest, this really isn’t about the video,” he said. “It is about really a series of discussions, really certainly over the last week but even spanning back longer than that. There is a level of frustration that exists that just really makes it difficult to have a productive reconciliation.”
“It is something that became clear to me really realistically in the past couple days.”
Beckham, who turned 29 Friday, had 17 catches for 232 yards and no touchdowns in six games this season. The last straw was one catch for 6 yards — career lows — Sunday in the 15-10 loss to the Steelers.
Beckham said publicly he wanted to win a Super Bowl with the Browns and best friend Jarvis Landry but privately had requested a trade multiple times starting in the offseason. The Browns were open to listening but there was no market because of Beckham’s $14.5 million salary, injury history and drop in production.
The only way for Beckham to go elsewhere and get the increase in opportunities he desires was for the Browns to cut him. After discussions between Berry, Beckham and his representatives, the Browns decided to set him free.
“I did talk to Odell,” Berry said. “The details of those conversations, realistically they remain private. I can tell you the discussion, it was cordial and it was professional.”
The release won’t be official until the sides agree on changes to his contract.
Beckham will be subject to waivers — Monday at the earliest — and would become a free agent if he isn’t claimed.
“I can tell you that really everybody’s put a ton of time and energy into it, and everybody’s disappointed that this is the outcome,” Berry said. “But it is where we are. Just sometimes they don’t work out and we have to move forward and focus on Cincinnati.”
The Browns (4-4) will play the Bengals (5-3) on Sunday in Cincinnati in an important AFC North matchup.
“We’re moving on,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It’s unfortunate how it happened. I think it’s unfortunate for both sides, but we have to move on and put our focus on this game versus Cincinnati.
“I understand the attention that this has gotten. We understand it. Obviously not going to ignore it, but we really, really have to focus on going down there and finding a way to win.”