SEATTLE – The Cleveland Browns announced Friday morning they planned to release receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and the Seahawks immediately were mentioned as a potential next landing spot for the for the big-name wide receiver.
Pro Football Talk reported Friday morning that the Saints, 49ers and Seahawks are considered “teams to watch” and that “some believe he prefers to go to Seattle, which makes sense given the presence of quarterback Russell Wilson and other receivers who attract plenty of attention.”
Wilson and Beckham, in fact, have at least something of a relationship – Wilson in the summer of 2019 posted video of a workout that included Beckham. Wilson has long pushed for the team to acquire just about every receiver available, in each of the past two years publicly advocating for the Seahawks to sign Antonio Brown.
But Beckham becoming a Seahawk isn’t as simple as both sides wanting it to happen.
Because we are now past the trade deadline, Beckham will have to be waived, which means he can then be claimed by any team in what is the current draft order.
Seattle has the ninth spot in the current waiver claim order (it changes each week based on team records) behind Detroit, Miami, Houston, Jacksonville, New York Jets, New York Giants, Washington and Philadelphia.
The Browns restructured Beckham’s contract Friday, eliminating the two nonguaranteed years remaining after 2021. Once he is waived, any team that claims him will pay the $7.25 million he’s owed for the remainder of the season, and he will become a free agent at the end of the year.
If Beckham clears waivers he will become a free agent and the Browns would owe him $4.25 million, saving the team $3 million.
Beckham’s high cap hit for the rest of this season initially had many thinking only teams with a lot of cap space left would be interested.
That group would have included the Seahawks, who as of Friday were listed as having $13.3 million in available cap space, via OvertheCap.com, fourth most of any NFL team.
Teams with over $7.25 million include: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, the L.A. Chargers, Washington, Carolina, Denver, Philadelphia and Jacksonville.
Though with the restructure, just about any team that wants him could find a way to make it work.
That leaves two main questions: Will Beckham be available for Seattle to claim, and will the Seahawks claim him if he is? If he’s not claimed, he then becomes a free agent and after clearing waivers, would be free to sign with any team. (For now, we’ll stick with assuming someone will claim him.)
You never know what a team is thinking, and maybe one of the eight above Seattle would think he’s worth a shot. Maybe the Eagles, who have the same 3-5 record as Seattle and theoretically the same odds of making the playoffs, would figure it’s worth a half-season gamble.
As for Seattle, it might be a more complicated decision than some might think.
Seattle has one of the best receiving duos in the NFL in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf – each in the top 12 in receiving yards this week but doing so despite neither being higher than 24th in targets (Lockett 24th, Metcalf is 28th).
A common assumption is that another reliable target could help open things up even more for Metcalf and Lockett. But the question could be raised of why the team would do anything to potentially decrease the targets for Metcalf and Lockett, especially since one of the reasons the Browns are waiving Beckham is his apparent unhappiness with the amount of targets he was getting in Cleveland.
Seattle also is hoping to soon get back rookie Dee Eskridge, the 56th overall pick in the 2021 draft and the second-highest pick of a receiver in the Pete Carroll era behind only Paul Richardson at 45 in 2014. Eskridge has not played since the opener due to a concussion but is expected to return to practice next week.
The Seahawks have hoped to carve out a big role for Eskridge in the offense, not just receiving but also getting fly and jet sweeps – a key component of Shane Waldron’s offense. Eskridge had two carries for 22 yards in 12 snaps against the Colts before he was injured.
Adding Beckham would almost certainly confine Eskridge to a fourth-receiver role. Penny Hart, who has essentially been the fourth receiver with Eskridge out and Freddie Swain moving up to the third WR role, has played just 68 snaps in seven games since the opener.
While it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks want to consign such a high pick to a No. 4 receiver long term, for half a year, that might not be a worry.
There’s also the question of exactly what a team will be getting in Beckham. He made the Pro Bowl his first three years in the league from 2014-16 but hasn’t since, and has played just 42 games since 2016 while battling a slew of injuries, including an ACL tear last year.
The assumption is his lack of recent numbers is due mostly to his frayed relationship with Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield. But that’s the gamble a team claiming him will be taking.
Pro Football Focus offered this scouting report of Beckham Friday: “Beckham Jr.’s 66.1 receiving grade ranks tied for 73rd among the 134 wide receivers with at least 10 targets this season. He has eight explosive receptions of 15-plus yards, and his 14.3-yard average depth of target ranks 25th among that same group of wide receivers. The veteran pass-catcher is still just over a year removed from a torn ACL, so perhaps there’s optimism that he will improve as the season goes on. While he may not be 100%, he can still consistently create separation from defenders and now wants a quarterback who can deliver him the football when he’s open.”
Beckham had decided Mayfield could not be that QB any longer. Could Russell Wilson be throwing to him next?
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