It would be a dereliction of duty for me to sit here on a Friday in November when a supremely gifted if mercurial, divisive and polarizing NFL talent just got released and not speculate about him coming to New England. Or meeting my contractual obligation to insert the required GIF.
Odell Beckham Jr. just escaped Cleveland, with Odell Beckham Sr. helping to dig the tunnel under the wall. The Patriots have a decent-to-good receiving corps (graded 10th best by Pro Football Focus through eight games). Interestingly too, the wideouts in this offense fit together well, with Kendrick Bourne excelling against Man coverage (127.1 passer rating when targeted via PFF), while Nelson Agholor (114.4) and N'Keal Harry (118.8 on limited snaps) excel as Zone-beaters. But while the group has been pret-tay good and seem to be getting better as the season goes along, there's never not a need to upgrade the physical abilities of your WR room, right? I mean, the Bucs had the best depth chart in the league last year, but that didn't stop GM Tom Brady from forcing his figurehead head coach to take on Antonio Brown. And no one in Tampa is complaining.
Which brings us to whether GM Belichick can or should try to bring OBJ to New England. To conduct a nuclear blast that will counter Brady's move and start a Nutjob Receiver Arms Race against his superpower rival. There's a lot that factors into it. Starting with the waiver wire order for when Beckham becomes eligible on Monday:
With almost half the league picking before Belichick and, according to Ian Rapoport OBJ can be paid at about the veteran minimum (estimated to be about $530,000 and change) with the rest of his money owed turned into a bonus, the odds of Beckham sailing through those tricky waters without being claimed by one of 14 teams seems pretty unlikely.
But there are other factors at play here. Not the least of which is this is Odell Beckham Jr. we're talking about. Backed up by Odell Beckham Sr. Those two managed to shoot their way out of the Giants right after signing a $95 million ($65 million guarantees) five-year deal. Then successfully got out of Cleveland, with OBS driving the getaway car. These guys have a genius for making highly receiver-needy teams lose interest.
Which brings us to whether there could be mutual interest between the OBs and BB. And there for sure was the last time they faced one another. That would be the late October game in 2019. The one that's most remembered for OBJ bearing precious, ceremonial gifts like you would if you were visiting a head of state. Which he was:
Right in front of poor Baker Mayfield, who just stood there looking on, like a cuck watching his lady throw herself at a richer, handsomer man.
In the week before the game, Beckham and Belichick talked about each other in a way that was almost embarrassing.
Belichick on Beckham:
“He makes acrobatic catches, good quickness, good after the catch, and he can throw. He’s had a couple of passes, as well, so he’s a little bit of a threat to run with the ball or throw it if he gets behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a good player. They use him in a lot of different ways.”
Beckham on Belichick:
“This is somebody who I have much respect for, Probably talk to him before and after the game. He tells me the same thing every time, he’s like: ‘I hope you enjoy today because there’s not going to be much for you.’ That’s what he’s told me and that’s what he does every single time. It’s just tough. He’s going to coach it up and they’re going to be ready and prepared.”
Geez. You almost wanted to spray the garden hose in their direction and yell for them to stop that before the kids started asking questions they're too young for. But the respect seemed genuine from both. There was also this more recently:
For the record, OBJ had some impact in the Patriots 27-13 win. He had one catch for 31 yards, though just 19 yards on his other four catches and no scores as Belichick mostly iso'd Stephon Gilmore on him and doubled Jarvis Landry. But a wideout capable of drawing an opponent's CB1 is always a good thing to have lying around on your roster.
The question remains though, whether that OBJ is this OBJ. His numbers have been down significantly lately. The guy who made the most celebrated catch of all time in New York has caught just 50% of his 34 targets on the season. He's just fourth in receptions and yards per receptions among WRs and 11th in passer rating on his own team. And you can argue - as his dad has - that it's all on Mayfield and maybe you'll be right. But it doesn't explain how a part timer like Donovan People-Jones and a tight end like David Njoku have managed to outperform him, despite him leading the team in targets.
So I have my doubts as to whether Belichick should pick OBJ up. While at the same time hoping he does pick him up. One because people around the league will lose their damned minds about it. And two, because this crackpot will be very, very good for the Patriots blogging business. Please, make this happen.