Everyone knows by now that character concerns are one of the reasons why the New York Giants traded star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, whether or not the team itself admits that and whether or not those concerns are actually justified. How Beckham performs in Cleveland both on or off the field will be one of the deciding factors in the ongoing debate over whether or not the trade is justified.
Now that offseason training is heating up and OTAs are underway, there’s some reports coming out on that very subject.
With one OTA left for the Browns, Cleveland head coach Freddie Kitchens didn’t seem like the most satisfied person in the world with Beckham – who skipped optional minicamp and only attended one day of OTAs.
“I just want to see him,” Kitchens said of Beckham when asked by Cleveland.com what he expected of the player during mandatory minicamp. He continued and claimed that Beckham missed “a lot,” and “the offense.”
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, however, defended Beckham’s decision. “You let a guy like that be him. Everybody has their routine. Stick to what is working, and for him, obviously, it’s been working for a while. He’s going to do what he’s going to do. You have to trust that he is going to be there when it matters, and we know who he is.”
Of course, mandatory practices haven’t begun yet, and so Beckham technically isn’t in the wrong for not attending. However, it’s also hard to make an argument for a star player being in the right to skip optional practices when joining a new team. After stepping into an unfamiliar organization and offense, most players would benefit from getting as much practice time in as possible before the season. Additionally, Beckham hasn’t yet built up enough trust with Cleveland to skip the majority of OTAs and not have it mentioned with a suspicious eye.
The New York Giants have largely avoided problems during their own OTAs this year. The questions about the team’s quarterback situation have mostly been settled by now and there hasn’t been drama over a star player not showing up, which might not be the case if Beckham was still with the team. And with the media focusing intently on issues like this, such drama could have been a major distraction.
However, despite providing some distractions, Beckham is still one of the best receivers to ever play for the team. It looks like the Giants did duck some drama by trading him away, but if they want that trade to be worth it, they’ll still have to find production out of a group of players that’s still largely unproven playing without Beckham. Will they be successful? We’ll find that out during this season.