Cleveland's 2019 season has been nothing short of disappointing for all involved. And as NFL.com's Jeremy Berman suggests, Odell Beckham
, who falls into the latter category, has been the face of the lost opportunity in Cleveland this year.
Acquired via trade from the Giants this offseason, in a swap the Browns were declared at the time to have won, Beckham has underperformed by most metrics. OBJ is averaging a career-low 4.75 receptions per game and 67.1 receiving yards per game and has just two receiving touchdowns through 12 games -- his previous low was three in an injury-shortened 2017 season.
Worst for all involved is that Beckham's presence and that of first-year coach Freddie Kitchens and others have not led to winning in Cleveland.
A preseason favorite to at least make the postseason, the Browns (5-7) are two games behind in the wild card with four to go. The AFC North is Baltimore's to lose.
All this calls into question what Cleveland's future holds and whether it includes Beckham. On Thursday, OBJ was asked how he sees his time with the Browns playing out and the receiver provided vague answers.
"No one knows what the future holds, like tomorrow. I couldn't tell you what's going to happen," Beckham told reporters. "My locker is right beside one of the men [Jarvis Landry
] who means the most to me in the world. I think about just being able to come to work and seeing him every single day and how special this could be, so I couldn't sit here and tell you whether I'm gonna be here, want to be here, don't want to be here. This is exactly where I'm at now and I wouldn't rather be anywhere else."
Living in the now is a good strategy in-season
. But when the offseason comes, and it will likely come for Cleveland the Monday after Week 17, decisions regarding Kitchens, Beckham and the like will need to be made.
While Beckham has four years left on a five-year extension he signed with the Giants in 2018, Cleveland, which now owns his rights, has a potential out following the 2019 season if it chooses to part ways with OBJ. If the Browns desired to move on from the receiver, they would only be on the hook for $2.75 million in 2020 and then nothing going forward.
Beckham carries the highest cap hit on Cleveland's roster this season and would carry the third-highest hit in 2020.
And yet the receiver is not an integral part of an offense that has struggled to live up to expectations all year.
OBJ admitted his truncated role on the offense is frustrating, especially when Cleveland loses.
"It is tough. Along with any other position, you want to help, period," Beckham said, per the team's transcript. "You do get the ball or you do not get the ball, ultimately, what fixes everything is winning, and when you do not win, that is when you can see problems or any words you want to put in there -- tension or any word you want to transfer that with is when you start to see the problem. The answer is always in winning. It is just really it."
With four games remaining including three against division opponents, Beckham is focused on just that, winning. The myriad offseason questions can wait.
That being the case, we'll point out in the short term that Beckham is coming off a three-catch, 29-yard outing against the Steelers.
According to ESPN's Mike Clay, the 5.9 fantasy points were Beckham's third fewest in a single game this season, though easily his lowest since Week 5.
Beckham now has finished outside the top 25 receivers in fantasy points during nine of his past 11 games. Despite the weak production against what has been a brutal schedule, Beckham still is seeing plenty of targets (8.5 per game) and should remain in lineups against shaky Bengals and Cardinals defenses over the next two weeks.
But generally speaking, Beckham has a ways to go in terms of regaining the trust of fantasy owners going forward.
By the way. ... I'll be watching for news that David Njoku
has been added to the active roster -- or not -- today. The expectation is the Browns will activate him
off injured reserve and insert him into the lineup tomorrow.