Photo Credits to TOM WITHERS | AP Sports Writer
It is finally time for the rest of the league to welcome the Cleveland Browns to contention! The excruciatingly long wait for Cleveland is over. No more tanking, no more getting a new starting quarterback and head coach every year and hoping they would pan out, and no more 0-16 parades. The move that shook up the NFL was when the Cleveland Browns acquired Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants for Jabrill Peppers and the 17th pick in the draft in early March. Trading for Beckham is an all-in type move for Cleveland and it marks the end of waiting for next year.
The Browns have gone from winless in 2017 to AFC North Favorites in 2019. The Steelers got rid of 2 of the 3 “Killer Bees” in Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell, the Ravens shed payroll, and the Bengals are turning into a dumpster fire. Which means the division is there for Cleveland’s taking. But the Browns aren’t just looking to win the division they have their sights set on bringing Cleveland their first-ever Super Bowl title. They have the third-best odds to win the AFC behind the Patriots and the Chiefs. However, with these high expectations, comes pressure and risk.
The Beckham trade was a risky one for the Browns. He is prone to the occasional temper tantrums and emotional trips that come in OBJ’s world where sideline equipment has more to fear than opposing defenses do at times. Beckham has also dealt with a multitude of injuries throughout his career. Beckham also has a very expensive 5 year $90 million contract that the Browns have to take in. Giving up first and third round picks as well as Peppers is a big price to pay for an injury prone superstar who a team with eight wins in the last two years made expendable. However, risks and expectations come with being a contender and it is a trade-off that anyone in Cleveland is glad to make.
Trading for Beckham means that second-year Quarterback Baker Mayfield must build off his record-setting rookie campaign and become a star in this league. It also means first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens must become more than an interim offensive coordinator with some crazy play designs and nothing to lose. The Browns must start winning big right away. General Manager John Dorsey could have gone about the offseason more safely and acquired a drama-free decent receiver such as Tyrell WIlliams to give Mayfield more weapons and gradually build towards a Super Bowl Contending roster. But John Dorsey doesn’t run his teams that way. Dorsey and the Browns went right for it. Becoming a contender in the National Football League means raising the stakes and taking bold risks and Dorsey has done just that.
Getting rid of the pre-draft talk and selecting Mayfield first overall was the first successful risk Dorsey made as GM. Firing Head Coach Hue Jackson and Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley midseason was another risky move. Keeping Kitchens as head coach with little experience and expecting him to be able to manage all of the talent on the roster is another risk. In Beckham, Dorsey has got one of the league’s most talented, thrilling, and dangerous players. Dorsey doesn’t play it safe or procrastinate he gambles in order to win now, and this gamble will pay off.
Mayfield to Beckham is a score from anywhere quarterback-receiver duo just like Tom Brady and Randy Moss back in the day. The stacked offense also has talented players like Beckham’s college running mate Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, David Njoku, Kareem Hunt, and Antonio Callaway. Not only is the offense supremely talented, but so is the Defense. Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon could very well be the best pass rushing group in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns are now scary good and had to make some scary risks to get there. They have set themselves up to contend for Super Bowls for years to come. Odell Beckham Jr. expressed his desire to bring championships to Cleveland and turn the Browns into the “New Patriots”, and I think that he will do just that.