Odell Beckham Jr. might just have talked his way out of another city and another franchise, and that opens up some tantalizing possibilities. He still is -- when his body is healthy and his mind is right -- one of the best receivers in football.
The Jets, of course, really do need a No. 1 receiver.
But what they don't need is a Beckham-sized headache.
This is all wildly premature, of course, since all we know at the moment is that there are reports that Beckham wants out of Cleveland, which came after Beckham himself refused to say if he wanted to return this week. Who knows if the Browns will try to weather the storm with their mercurial superstar, or whether they will try to grant his wishes? And if they do, who knows if the Jets would even be interested or what the asking price would be?
Just in case it's even a fleeting thought, though, for Jets GM Joe Douglas, he should follow the example of embattled Giants GM Dave Gettleman. Because Gettleman drew a lot of flak for dealing Beckham last March, just seven months after signing him to a five-year, $90 million contract with $65 million in guarantees. But that deal, which netted the Giants a first- and third-round pick, plus safety Jabrill Peppers, looks better every day.
And that's because Beckham is Beckham, and he can't help himself. He's a walking distraction who can't hide his displeasure with … well, with anything. With the Giants, it was being thrown passes by an aging Eli Manning. In Cleveland, it's the way he's being used in Freddie Kitchens' offense and apparently how the training staff handled his just-revealed sports hernia. Like with the Giants, his Browns teammates still seem to love him and tout his hard work behind the scenes.
Then, he steps in front of a microphone or up to a social media platform and he's a master at wiping all that goodwill away.
The Browns should have been a happy place for him, even if it was in Cleveland, far from the warm weather and bright lights he craves. He was paired with his best buddy, receiver Jarvis Landry, and he was given a younger, stronger-armed quarterback in Baker Mayfield. The Browns even made it clear they'd accept Beckham for who he is, and would embrace him as their biggest star and maybe even their most important player.
But now the stories come out. He's playing hurt. He's unhappy with his role. He's telling friends and other players around the league that he wants out, the same way he told people that a year ago with the Giants that he wanted to play in San Francisco or Los Angeles. When Beckham is unhappy, everyone knows it. He makes sure of that, either behind the scenes, or out front with the things he says or doesn't say.
And the headlines, distracting questions and self-inflicted controversy always follow.
Yes, the Jets could use his remarkable talent. He'd be the first real passing-game weapon that young quarterback Sam Darnold has had. And he'd open up a ton of room for slot man Jamison Crowder over the middle as well as outside receiver Robby Anderson and running back Le'Veon Bell if they're back next year. He also wouldn't cost much either since his cap number peaks at $15.75 million in 2020.
He also only has $2.75 million left in guaranteed money (in 2020). So he's easily cuttable or tradeable in any of the final four years on his deal.
So it makes sense, right, as long as the Browns are asking for something less than a first-rounder? The Jets even have that extra high third-round pick they stole from the Giants for Leonard Williams that they could toss in to any deal.
But because it's Beckham, the Jets would be better off getting creative and finding a receiver in a trade, the way so many others have done in recent seasons. Or they could spent their free-agent money on Devante Parker or Amari Cooper. They could also have a shot at Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy, depending on where they land in the NFL draft.
None of them are Beckham, but they are quieter, more team-oriented options -- players who figure to show up for the offseason training program and buy into the program the rest of the year. They won't sour on Gase or Darnold when things go wrong, and if they do, the public likely wouldn't know it. And the New York media wouldn't be following their every move the way they surely would with Beckham if he returned.
All of that matters, and sometimes it's more important that pure talent. That's the irony of Beckham. His talent is irresistible, but if by some miracle he becomes an option, the Jets need to resist anyway. New York has lived through the Beckham experience once before.
It's not likely to be any better now.