A dream come true
The smile on Odell Beckham Jr.’s face said it all as he met with the Cleveland media for the first time Monday.
It became apparent early on that the initial shock of the March 12 trade that swept him up from the New York area and dropped him in Cleveland had dissipated.
Love was in the air all around. Beckham’s five seasons with the Giants were clearly in the distance and disappearing quickly in the rearview mirror.
“I’m very excited about this,” the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver declared. “I think it’s going to be one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life.”
Asked his impression of new head coach Freddie Kitchens immediately replied, “I love him. I gave him a bug hug. . . . He’s straightforward and authentic. . . . I could feel the love walking in.”
Seated to his immediate right at the table was Jarvis Landry, his closest friend in not just the National Football League, but life. It all seemed almost surreal to the newest member of the Browns.
“At 17, we dreamed about this,” Beckham said of their growing up together in Louisiana and three seasons together at Louisiana State University. “Now, it’s real.”
Landry, who campaigned, lobbied and prodded Browns General Manager John Dorsey to reunite the LSU products in the NFL, couldn’t have been more pleased. “It’s more of an honor to take the field with him again,” he said of his new teammate.
Beckham and Landry spoke last season after the Browns had obtained Landry in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. “He came over here last year and I joked with him that I was coming (to join him in Cleveland),” he revealed. “I was just messing with him. We never thought we’d be here.”
Beckham dismissed the notion that his abundant talent is counterbalanced by his reputation as a free spirit and that he might have trouble adjusting to a completely different way of life in Cleveland as opposed to New York. “Nothing bothers me because I know who I am,” he said.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield and defensive end Myles Garrett joined Beckham at his debut. “I called him and talked to him (after the trade),” Mayfield said as he exchanged smiles with his newest wide receiver. “The thing we kept saying was this can’t be real.”
The quarterback also pointed out Beckham will be valuable off the field as well. “(Getting him) is great for the locker room,” he said. “The impact he can have with who he is as a person speaks much more than anything he will ever do on the field. That’s why it’s such a big deal for us. That’s why we are all excited and pumped up.”
The inevitable question regarded ball distribution in the passing game came up. Both men like to be targeted frequently and are not shy about complaining if their target totals lag.
Mayfield handled it as deftly as he escapes the opposition’s pass rush when in trouble. “I just close my eyes,” he said, “and hope one of them catches it. I’m not worried about that. They know I’m going to do my job and hope they trust me to do that.”
As thoughts of a potential Super Bowl appearance by the suddenly strong Browns this season hovered inside and around 76 Lou Groza Blvd. in Berea, the Beckham rollout merely added more fuel.
It has been a very long time since Browns Nation can justify feeling this good this early in the season.
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Roster moves: Say goodbye to wide receiver Ricardo Louis, safety Derrick Kindred and cornerback Howard Wilson (all waived) and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, traded Monday to Kansas City for safety Eric Murray. And hello again to defensive tackle Trevon Coley, wide receiver Rashard Higgins and defensive backs Juston Burris and Jerome Whitehead, all of whom were signed.
Updating the two-season draft scorecard for Sashi Brown (2016 and 2017): 24 selections, only six (one shaky) left. Middle linebacker Joe Schobert, tight end Seth DeValve (shaky) and Higgins remain from the 14-member 2016 class. Garrett, tight end David Njoku and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi have survived from the 10-member 2017 class.
Eight members of Dorsey’s nine-man 2018 class are still with the team. Five are starters and/or major contributors (Mayfield, cornerback Denzel Ward, running back Nick Chubb, wide receiver Antonio Callaway and linebacker Genard Avery) and a sixth (guard Austin Corbett) ostensibly will be a starter this season.
Brown provided the draft capital, but had no idea what to do with it. Dorsey wisely filled in many of the blanks.