The up-and-coming Cleveland Browns were willing to do what the fading New York Giants wouldn’t: take a chance on Odell Beckham Jr.’s talent and hope his baggage doesn’t weigh down the team.
“I know Odell is very passionate,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said on a conference call. “I know he is competitive. I know he can help this football team, and if you get a chance to acquire a guy like that, you know what, take a shot at it. We acquired him.”
Beckham was traded to the Browns along with defensive lineman Olivier Vernon for safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler and first- and third-round picks in this year’s draft. The trade sent shock waves through the NFL, as the Giants gave up one of the most talented players in the league.
“We all understand the magnitude of his ability to play the game of football,” Dorsey said.
Despite giving Beckham a five-year, $90 million contract last August and saying they didn’t sign him to trade him, the Giants did just that, eating a considerable amount of money. There was no clear final straw, but Beckham had been a polarizing figure for years. There was the video from Paris of Beckham lounging on a bed with a woman, a pizza and some suspicious-looking substances. There was Beckham’s questioning of quarterback Eli Manning. There were antics on the sideline, most notably when Beckham got into a wrestling match with the kicker’s practice net.
Dorsey said that Freddie Kitchens’ direct approach will help manage Beckham and the other many strong personalities on the Browns. He recognizes that quarterback Baker Mayfield will be responsible for bringing it all together on the field.
“I think with Baker, he showed last year that he can step up to certain challenges,” Dorsey said. “And again, the object of this thing is to surround him with as many good football players as you possibly can.”
Dorsey sees it as a positive that Adam Henry is the Browns receivers coach. Henry had the same job at LSU when Beckham and Jarvis Landry were teammates. Henry also coached Beckham in New York in 2016. Joining a team with Landry will “only help” both players, Dorsey said. “I know that they are best of friends,” Dorsey said of Landry and Beckham. “They’ve very competitive with each other. I heard Les Miles talks about how those two would drive each other and push each other at LSU to compete. And I think it can only help each other because that competition brings out the best in any athlete, regardless of the sport.”
Dorsey quipped (seriously) that the only excitement he felt the night of the trade was to get home and see his son and daughter before they went to bed. But he is aware that the trade has raised expectations for the Browns, who went through a winless season as recently as 2017.
“Expectations, I hear a lot about that,” Dorsey said. “But I know this: Good football teams, they win in the fall. And what we’ve done is we’ve added some talent. Now the chemistry part’s got to take over with it.”