As Odell Beckham Jr. gets closer to finding his new home, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians stated it won’t be Tampa Bay.
“No. Too many letters. We’ve already got A.B. (Antonio Brown), we don’t need O.B.J.,” Arians told the media on Wednesday per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
That’s even with Brown out injured and the Bucs looking for ways to fill the void. Brown injured his ankle against Philadelphia on Oct. 14. Arians didn’t sound confident on Monday that Brown will return to the field soon.
“Yes. Yes, he’s still in the boot,” Arians said during Monday’s press conference via Buccaneers.com.
“I think you still have to worry a little bit about Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) and I don’t know if A.B. is going to make it back,” Arians added.
Arians shut the door — at least for now — on Beckham joining the Bucs. That’s also despite the mutual respect Beckham and Bucs quarterback Tom Brady have for each other. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington highlighted that as a reason why it would have made sense this time around, and the analyst suggested it previously in the offseason, too.
Beckham caught 17 passes for 232 yards, an average of 13.6 yards per play in six games for Cleveland. He and the Browns had a falling out prior to his release on Monday.
Bucs Already Addressing Receiver Depth
Arians and Bucs staff haven’t ignored the impact of Brown missing time.
Tampa Bay signed former Bucs receiver Breshad Perriman to the practice squad this week. Schefter reported that Perriman could see action on the field “in near future.”
The Bucs previously moved receiver Cyril Grayson up from the practice squad for the past two games. It worked out extra well the second time around as Grayson caught a 50-yard touchdown from Brady against New Orleans on Oct. 31.
Brady has another speedy receiver coming back soon in Scotty Miller, too. Miller was “designated to return” from his turf toe injury according to The Tampa Bay Times’ Joey Knight.
How Many Targets Available For O.B.J. Anyway?
Arians saying “we don’t need O.B.J.” is far from an exaggeration.
Brady averages 42.8 passes per game, which could go down if the Bucs run the ball more in the second half of the season. Top receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans receive 8.6 and 7.8 targets per game respectively.
Brown was Brady’s second-most targeted receiver with 8.4 targets per game in five games played this season. Gronkowski averaged 5.5 targets per game, but that number gets skewed since he missed time during two of those games due to injury.
After the top four, Brady distributes the ball fairly evenly to another five players. Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Johnson, and O.J. Howard receive between 2.3 and 4.8 targets per game.
That leaves very little room for Beckham, who is used to being a No. 1 receiver, to fit into an offense with lots of talent. Beckham received 17 targets in six games this season, but he averages 114 targets per season or 9.7 per game for his career.