Odell Beckham Jr. excused from Browns practice amid drama
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr.’s days — maybe hours — with the Browns could be numbered.
The star wide receiver was excused from practice on Wednesday, a day after his father caused a stir before the trade deadline by sharing a video of quarterback Baker Mayfield not throwing passes to his son.
It appears Beckham’s release could be imminent.
Coach Kevin Stefanski said Browns general manager Andrew Berry is meeting with Beckham’s representatives. Stefanski gave blanket answers to questions ranging from whether the former Pro Bowler would be waived or if things could be fixed.
“There’s a lot of conversations that are ongoing between Andrew and his reps and I’m sure there’s substantive talk towards all those things,” Stefanski said before practice. “We’ll see where this goes.”
Stefanski was asked for the reason behind Beckham being excused from practice.
“Just felt that was the right thing to do,” he said.
Stefanski said he has not spoken to Beckham, a clear sign of a major rift between the Browns and a controversial player with a history of being a distraction.
It’s likely the Browns (4-4) are preparing to move on without the 28-year-old Beckham, who is under contract for two more seasons but is not guaranteed any money after 2021.
The Browns are in last place in the AFC North and visit the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) this week.
As Tuesday’s deadline neared, Odell Beckham Sr. shared an 11-minute video on Instagram titled: “Odell Beckham is Always Open for the Cleveland Browns in 2021.” The montage of plays showed Beckham not being thrown the ball by Mayfield.
Their lack of a connection has been an ongoing issue since Beckham arrived in a blockbuster 2019 trade from the New York Giants.
Compounding their lack of chemistry, Mayfield played better and led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 — ending a nearly two-decade drought — after Beckham suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Stefansksi sidestepped any questions about the video, and said he was confident the distraction would not affect his team.
“We work really hard in this building to concern ourselves with things that are going on in this building and concern ourselves with the Cincinnati Bengals and that’s really where we’re laser-focused on the task at hand,” he said.
Mayfield normally speaks with reporters before Wednesday, but his session was pushed back.
If Beckham Sr.’s social media posting wasn’t enough, NBA superstar LeBron James escalated the drama with a tweet that said: “OBJ will show again why he’s special. WR1 #FreeOBJ.”
Mayfield only threw two passes toward Beckham in Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had just one catch for 6 yards, and his other target was a high incompletion in the fourth quarter.
Since returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Beckham has 17 catches for 232 yards and no touchdowns this season. He’s also been playing with a sprained right shoulder that he hurt against Arizona on Oct. 17.
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