Odell Beckham Jr. Prioritizing Packers as Top Choice: Report

OBJ-Packers Prioritizing

Getty Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns on the field but not in uniform today before the game against the Houston Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Green Bay Packers could be on the verge of making the biggest free-agent wide receiver addition of Aaron Rodgers’ career.

According to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has “prioritized the Packers” as his top destination should he clear the waivers on November 9 and become an unrestricted free agent. The Browns officially waived Beckham on Monday, November 8, after the former first-round pick and the organization mutually agreed to part ways.

Beckham would be a dynamic addition for a Packers offense that features the league’s reigning MVP along with one of its very best wideouts in Davante Adams. While Beckham’s tenure with the Browns was a little disappointing and marred with injuries, he still averaged 13.9 yards per reception across his 29 games for Cleveland and had caught 17 passes for 232 yards in six games this season for the Browns.

If the Packers managed to sign Beckham, Rodgers’ receiving arsenal would include two wideouts with multiple Pro Bowl selections along with a verified deep-threat (Marquez Valdes-Scantling), a trusted veteran (Randall Cobb) and gritty-but-reliable “goon” in Allen Lazard. Especially with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon coming out of the backfield, there would be no question about the Packers housing a championship-caliber offense.

Teams will be able to submit a waiver claim on Beckham Jr. — and his $7.25 million cap charge — until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, November 9. If the deadline passes without him being awarded to a team, Beckham will become an unrestricted free agent and can negotiate a new contract with whichever team he chooses.

Update (11/09 at 4 p.m. ET): Beckham officially went unclaimed at Tuesday’s waiver deadline and has officially become a free agent.

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Beckham Move Could Help After Losing Tonyan

The Packers are less than two weeks removed from losing starting tight end Robert Tonyan Jr. to a season-ending ACL injury, a subtraction that cannot be discounted despite his increased blocking responsibilities in 2021 limiting his receiving production. Just a year ago, Tonyan caught 11 touchdown passes from Rodgers and tied with five-time All-Pro Travis Kelce for the most in the league among tight ends. No matter how you spin it, without outside additions, that production is difficult to replace.

Many believed the Packers would attempt to make a deal for a new vertical-threat tight end prior to last week’s NFL trade deadline with at least one report — from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler — claiming they were “doing homework” on some of the better options thought to be available. The deadline came and went without the Packers adding any new weapons, though, raising questions about where they would turn to replace Tonyan’s lost production.

There are a few internal solutions for the Packers. One is the return of MVS, who had not played since Week 3 due to a hamstring injury but was activated off injured reserve for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. He caught just two passes for 19 yards and was a little understated in his first game back, but the Packers were also playing without Rodgers — with whom MVS has cultivated a strong relationship.

The Packers also have Josiah Deguara, a 2020 third-round pick, looking to fill the void that Tonyan left behind. He has caught all four of the passes thrown his direction since Tonyan exited the lineup and could stand to get a bump in attention once Rodgers return, especially considering Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has been high on Deguara’s potential.

That said, neither Valdes-Scantling nor Deguara have the proven record of Beckham. Beckham has exceeded 1,000 receiving yards in five of his previous eight seasons in the NFL, the most recent of which came during his first season with the Browns. While an ACL tear in 2020 derailed his second year in Cleveland, he looked spry and capable when he rejoined the lineup earlier this year. Even if he isn’t the same version of himself that rose to stardom with the New York Giants, he is a formidable weapon for any offense.

Beckham Could Sign for Cheap & Yield Draft Capital

Rodgers has caught some flack for his non-football-related comments over the past week, but never underestimate the power of a three-time MVP quarterback. The chance to play with Rodgers and to potentially win a championship with the division-leading Packers could easily be enough for Beckham to agree to sign for the veteran minimum.

According to independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls, Beckham would only cost $537,500 against his new team’s salary cap if he signed a free-agent contract for the veteran minimum, making him absurdly affordable for a cap-constrained team like Green Bay that has about $4 million in space remaining for the year.

In addition to getting a big weapon for the current season, the Packers would also stand to turn Beckham into a high-value compensatory pick next offseason when he would presumably be allowed to walk and sign elsewhere. In other words, after countless years of fans screaming for the Packers to give up a massive sum to trade for Beckham, they might be able to pocket him for about half a million bucks for a championship run and gain an additional third-round pick for the 2023 NFL draft.

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