The Lions are surely in the market for a wide receiver as the time before the trade deadline winds down, but Odell Beckham Jr. should not be a target.
The Detroit Lions are a likely seller as Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline gets closer, but they may look to make a deal for a wide receiver if there’s a fit to be found. Any acquisition will come with the future in mind.
From the start, Odell Beckham Jr. and the Cleveland Browns have been a strained, or outright bad, fit. He and quarterback Baker Mayfield have never had an on-field connection, and there’s an argument the team is better without Beckham on the field.
Beckham missed the final nine games last season due to a torn ACL, and his recovery lingered into this season. He has played every game since Week 3, but he’s currently dealing with a shoulder issue. In three of the aforementioned five games, he has failed to get to 30 yards.
Beckham’s name is never far from trade rumors, and heading into this year’s trade deadline it’s no different. The Green Bay Packers are a popular team who’s easy to see with a need for a talent like him.
Should the Lions make a “dream trade” for Odell Beckham?
In his recent piece looking at the NFL trade deadline–buyers, sellers, etc., Conor Orr of SI.com has this under “Some dream trades.”
Odell Beckham to the Lions for two third-round picks
We’ve seen this trend a bit in both baseball and football of late, where some teams that are clearly out of it but flush with draft capital get a jump start on the free agent market. Lions general manager Brad Holmes, a Les Snead disciple, can create a delicate balance between pick-averse high roller and pragmatic team-builder by cutting the line for Beckham. The Browns love long-term thinking and have some talent on the roster, including Donovan Peoples-Jones who, while not a one-for-one replacement of Beckham’s skill set, is more of a conservative fit for Cleveland’s run-first offense. Meanwhile, Beckham would arrive as an ambassador for the Lions’ next quarterback.
The conversation around a trade for Beckham has to be centered on some key things, for the Lions or any other team.
Durability has become a serious issue for Beckham. A ankle injury, ultimately a fractured ankle on the heels of a preseason sprain, cost him all but four games with the New York Giants in 2017. He missed the final four games of the 2018 season with a quad issue. He played all 16 games in his first season with the Browns (2019), but missed the aforementioned nine games in 2020. He feels like a lock to miss more than the two games he has already missed this season at some point.
Beckham signed a big five-year contract with the Giants in 2018. There are two more years left on the deal after this one, but the fully guaranteed salary goes away after this season. So there’s not a lot of financial risk attached to acquiring him, should a team be so inclined.
By all accounts, Beckham has been a good soldier with the Browns. He hasn’t created any big distractions, or complained about his role (or lack thereof) in a public way. It’s worth noting he will still only turn 29 soon (Nov. 5).
The above being said, Orr suggesting Beckham “would arrive as an ambassador” for the Lions’ next quarterback almost made me laugh. In some potential (and unlikely) new settings, and naturally anointed as the No. 1 wide receiver and a “savior” in those situations, how long would it take for him to complain about not getting the ball enough? He may have matured some and more broadly been humbled by his time in Cleveland, but the question is if Beckham’s feathers as a diva wide receiver have really changed.
Two third-round picks, as Orr proposed, sounds reasonable as the cost to get Beckham for teams who are in a window to contend. But for the rebuilding Lions, regardless of the price to get him, he is a risk not worth taking.