One of the biggest stories in the NFL on Friday — besides Aaron Rodgers and Joe Rogan being best friends — was the Cleveland Browns agreeing to release Odell Beckham Jr. Immediately following that, the speculation began about where OBJ will go and who has the best chance to land him.
The party starts with the Detroit Lions. They are first in line on the waiver list to put in a claim on OBJ, but doing so would make little sense.
Beckham Jr. hasn’t been the same receiver he once was after multiple injuries, despite what his dad’s YouTube video would suggest. OBJ is still a great talent and a big name, but it appears the days of him being a superstar wide receiver are over.
Detroit could use a top-tier wideout, and claiming OBJ off waivers would undoubtedly give them a new option at the top of the depth chart. However, tentacles are spewing out in every direction that would make this move more than risky.
Start with OBJ’s injury history.
In 2017, he fractured his ankle and was out for the season. In 2018, he missed four games with a quad injury. And while he started in 15 games in 2019, he ended up getting surgery in the offseason to help with a core muscle injury. In 2020, he played in only seven games before tearing his ACL, which ended his season.
It’s a shame that a player who looked like a generational wide receiver has dealt with so many injury setbacks, but it is a huge part of OBJ’s career. The Lions aren’t exactly in a spot where they want to be taking fliers on veteran players. This is an 0-8 team trying to find solutions for the future. Does investing in a 29-year-old wideout who can’t stay on the field help with that? Likely not. And there are other reasons that make this a less-than-ideal move for Detroit.
Most believe Beckham Jr. would prefer to go to a contender. The Lions are not that this year, and this will surely be in a multi-year rebuild. Signing him could bring along the risk of a potential holdout. OBJ grew increasingly frustrated with the New York Giants and had a hand in his eventual departure. The same has now happened in Cleveland. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the Lions claim OBJ, and he comes in all smiles and ready to go. It’s not a knock against the Lions. The spot they’re in is not one Beckham Jr. would embrace wholeheartedly, and the Lions don’t need the negative vibes.
Bringing on OBJ wouldn’t necessarily mean bad juju. Even with everything that happened in Cleveland, Beckham Jr. never seemed to have much of a rift with anyone there until the end. But the end was messy, both in New York and Cleveland, and that should be concerning for Dan Campbell.
Detroit’s simple goal might be to add a playmaker who can help this offense now and down the road — OBJ will be under contract past 2021 — even though they won’t be a playoff contender for a while. He’s not the box-office attraction he once was. But OBJ would provide a facelift to the wide receiver room without Tyrell Williams and Quintez Cephus, and the Lions are still trying to figure out what they have in rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown. OBJ can still produce if given a proper share of the targets and would be the best wideout the Lions have by far. If it is as simple as Detroit looking at OBJ and seeing a playmaker who can contribute, past injuries notwithstanding, why not go crazy? Factoring in everything else, though, the move doesn’t add up.
As tempting as it might be, it won’t guarantee the Lions any success now, and more questions than answers could pop up after this season. It’s a flashy option but one the Lions should ultimately pass on.