Thursday July 2nd, 2020 10:55AM

OMG, OBJ: Beckham's arrival makes Browns instant contenders

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns returned as an expansion team in 1999. They became a real one Tuesday night.

It only took 20 mostly tortuous years — and one tremendous trade.

With a shocking, blockbuster deal for superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns flipped the NFL on its helmet and instantaneously changed their national perception. They're the talk of the league, and for the first time in forever, it's for the right reasons.

No longer a punching bag, the Browns are punching back. From hopeless to hope-filled. Finally.

Shortly after the league's free-agent signing period and its new calendar year opened on Wednesday, the Browns made their acquisition of Beckham from the New York Giants official. It's a done deal, and it's starting to sink in for Cleveland's impassioned and pained fan base, which has been waiting decades for its beloved football team to return to glory.

The Browns acquired Beckham and defensive end Olivier Vernon in exchange for guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Jabrill Peppers, a 2019 first-round pick (No. 17 overall) and a third-rounder (No. 95).

Beckham makes Cleveland cooler, the Browns a must-watch on TV, and in the words of quarterback Baker Mayfield, "dangerous."

One-handed catches. Prime-time matchups. Sold-out games. The Browns changed overnight.

In landing Beckham, one of the game's most electrifying players, Cleveland has risen from unimaginable depths in just a year. The Browns were coming off a historic 0-16 season last March, still searching for an elusive franchise quarterback and were prepared to enter the 2018 season with coach Hue Jackson, who had guided them to a 1-31 record over two seasons.

They were the league's laughingstocks. General manager John Dorsey has turned the tables. He began strategically plotting a run at Beckham in December, and seemingly came out of nowhere to deliver a blindside blow.

"He's probably if not the one, one or two best receivers in the National Football League," Dorsey said. "Very rarely do you get a chance to acquire a player of this magnitude. He's at a relatively young age. He's got a lot of football left in him. Great hands, great work ethic, committed, competitive, he really wants to be great. And that's all you can ask for."

One of the architects of Kansas City's turnaround, Dorsey has revived Cleveland's roster. The franchise now boasts Beckham, who will be reunited with receiver Jarvis Landry, his close friend and LSU teammate, Mayfield, Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett and maybe former Chefs running back Kareem Hunt, who still faces a likely league suspension.

The Browns are loaded with young, exciting players who may do more than contend for a playoff spot next season, and could one day take Cleveland to its first Super Bowl.

Some day. Maybe soon.

Moments after news of the trade agreement broke Tuesday, the odds in Las Vegas for the Browns winning the Super Bowl fell from 25 to 1 to 14 to 1.

For Beckham, sometimes dynamic, sometimes diva, Cleveland represents a fresh start and clean slate.

The three-time Pro Bowler, who can turn a short catch into a long gain, gives Mayfield an almost matchless weapon. He has amassed at least 1,000 yards receiving four times, the exception being an injury-shortened 2017 season. Last year, after signing a five-year, $90 million contract extension, he had 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games.

But there were issues. He never truly connected with first-year Giants coach Pat Shurmur and lacked chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning, whose skills came into question.

Now he's hooked up with Mayfield, one of his offseason workout partners.

"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to be part of this organization and the direction they are headed," Beckham said. "I've already witnessed the energy fans bring in that city having been to some playoff games at The Q. Browns fans deserve a winning football team. This is a fresh start for me and it's going to be great to join Baker and Jarvis on this team."

Dorsey, whose decision to take Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick last season altered Cleveland's trajectory, plucked Beckham from one of the league's most stable franchises without mortgaging the present or future. He somehow convinced Giants GM Dave Gettlemen to basically hand him the game's highest-paid receiver and best playmakers in exchange for two picks and Peppers, a former first-round selection of Cleveland's regime.

The price was minimal by mega-trade standards and came just two weeks after Dorsey said, "We're not ready to go for it."

But he changed his mind, perhaps because of a less-hostile landscape in the AFC North, where the Steelers have been rocked by the departures of Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell; Baltimore's loss of defenders C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle; and Cincinnati embarking on what could be a long rebuilding project.

Mostly, though, Dorsey trusts Mayfield and believes he can be the one to "awaken this sleeping giant."

The Browns are done being down.


More AP NFL: and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Iditarod winner's journey began as a boy racing sled dogs
Pete Kaiser has become the latest Alaska Native to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
6:04PM ( 8 minutes ago )
OMG, OBJ: Beckham's arrival makes Browns instant contenders
Trading places: Beckham's arrival boosts Browns from clowns to contenders
6:03PM ( 9 minutes ago )
'He's shady': Ringleader in college scandal irritated others
'He's shady, be careful.' There were early concerns and warnings about man at center of college admissions scandal.
6:03PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Court reinstates late Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction
Massachusetts' highest court has reinstated former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction
5:17PM ( 54 minutes ago )
Same tournament, new course with Players moving to March
Players Championship goes green with a move to March that makes TPC Sawgrass feel like a new course
5:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
NCAA committee convenes with extra attention for LSU
NCAA selection committee convenes with extra attention for wiretap-tainted LSU
4:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Ken Starr says he raised money for ex-player's rape defense
Former Baylor University President Ken Starr says he raised money for a former star Baylor football player who was recently acquitted of sex assault
2:41PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Top 25 Podcast: Talkin' basketball_ March Madness edition
The madness of March has already begun with conference tournaments in full swing and Selection Sunday looming
1:25PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP source: Jets agree to sign RB Le'Veon Bell
A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations says the New York Jets and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell have agreed on a deal
2:00AM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Online Football
Giants trade Beckham to Browns, Jets get Bell
While free agency spending frenzy runs wild, Giants trade Beckham to Browns while Jets agree to deal with Bell
1:10AM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Sources: Browns to acquire star receiver Beckham from NY
People familiar with blockbuster trade say Browns have agreed to acquire star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants.
11:23PM ( 18 hours ago )
Another receiver megadeal: Giants trade Beckham to Browns
While the free agency spending frenzy runs wild, the Giants and Browns found a way to overshadow it: a trade of Odell Beckham Jr. New York is sending its star receiver to Cleveland
9:43PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Iditarod winner's journey began as a boy racing sled dogs
Pete Kaiser has become the latest Alaska Native to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
6:04PM ( 8 minutes ago )
'He's shady': Ringleader in college scandal irritated others
'He's shady, be careful.' There were early concerns and warnings about man at center of college admissions scandal.
6:03PM ( 9 minutes ago )
US, Canada ground Boeing 737 Max 8s after Ethiopia crash
US, Canada ground Boeing 737 Max 8s after Ethiopia crash, citing possible similarities with previous crash involving the model
5:53PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Senate confirms White House official Rao for appeals court
The Senate has confirmed President Trump's nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on a high-profile appeals court
5:52PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Experts doubt turbulence caused crash of cargo jet in Texas
Aviation experts say they doubt turbulence could have brought down a cargo jet that crashed into a Texas bay in February, speculating that human error or a massive malfunction are more likely culprits
5:44PM ( 27 minutes ago )