Fans believe that Odell Beckham Jr. is still an elite player, failing to note just how much he’s fallen off since joining the Cleveland Browns.
Admit it, Cleveland Browns fans, Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer the elite playmaker he once was. You can blame it on Eli Manning, Pat Shurmer, Baker Mayfield, Freddie Kitchens or whoever you want for as long as you want but it won’t change the situation; he’s no longer an elite player. Elite players aren’t always bogged down by injury, aren’t hampered by the system around them and make plays that no one else can make. These are all things that Beckham cannot put a claim to.
Firstly, his play has been bad as of late. Bad for him, good for some $2 million a year, 33-year-old player on his last contract. Yes, back to back (barely) 1,000-yard seasons isn’t terrible. It is terrible however for someone who makes $17 million a year when the team just got rid of its defensive leader because he was asking for a ‘bit too much’.
Beckham is making $17 million a year, but he’s not lived up to that number. Beckham over his last three years is averaging 796 yards, 4.3 touchdowns a year, 59 receptions, and just barely 10 starts over that stretch. Yes, you’ll argue the numbers are out of whack because in 2017 Beckham was injured. That brings us to our second point because you’re right. He was also injured in 2018 and 2019 as well. He’s injured a lot. That’s the thing, he’s not a player you can rely on to be healthy. For $17 million dollars a year the least you can do is not be hurt. Nearly a quarter of his career has come from the injured list.
Yet he’s an elite receiver?
Ok, so he’s had three bad years (for an elite receiver) and he’s nearly guaranteed to be out for about a quarter of the year. At least he’s effective when he plays.
What? You mean he’s not? Oh boy…
For our third and final part, we look to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus. A site some like to use to decry how ‘overrated’ Joe Schobert is. Ok, let’s play that game. According to Monson, Beckham became famous for his stellar one-handed grabs, so him being a guy who drops passes a lot isn’t a thing to worry about, right? Well, after 14 games in 2019, Beckham already had seven drops on the season. For comparison, Larry Fitzgerald had six.
Across his last three seasons.
Monson goes on to say that Beckham’s drop rate was among the 10 worst through week 14 last year at a rate of 9.5 percent. This isn’t even factoring in ‘receiver errors’, which are mistakes the receivers make that cause a pass to go incomplete. This is usually due to some mistake on route running. According to Pro Football Focus, only Michael Gallup of the Dallas Cowboys cost his quarterback more completions than Beckham.
This isn’t even to take note of his year-to-year decline in his yards-a-game, his catch rate, and his target rate. They dipped every year with the lone exception being 2018, with Eli Manning as his quarterback. It’s hard to argue against facts, stats and common sense, but some will still try.
None of this is to say that Beckham can’t get his grove back. Just that he’s not an elite receiver at this moment, he’s someone who’s being overpaid for the work he’s turned in and if he does ‘return to form’, it will be an acknowledgment that he spent the last several years as anything but an elite player in this league.
This would be that bad if the Browns didn’t just let Schobert walk away over pennies on the dollar. What kind of message does that send? An oft-injured player, with declining play, declining skill and a penchant for making boneheaded on and off the field mistakes is worth $17 million dollars to the Browns? Yet, the Browns leader in tackling for (just about) his last three seasons, and being the best cover linebacker in the game isn’t worth a bit of a raise?
It sounds like a winning formula to me.