BEREA, Ohio >> Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was surprised — not hurt — by a video posted by Odell Beckham Jr.’s father that has created a rift with the team and could lead to the wide receiver’s release.
Beckham may be down to his final hours with the Browns, who are meeting with the star’s representatives to work out a resolution.
Beckham was excused from practice today, a day after Odell Beckham Sr. shared a video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — highlighting times when Mayfield didn’t throw passes to the three-time Pro Bowler when he was open this season.
The Browns may have made up their minds about Beckham, but Mayfield hasn’t ruled out a reconciliation.
“I thought we had a very open line of communication going into it, so we’ll see,” Mayfield said following practice. “I was more surprised than anything (by the video) — as everybody was. We’ll see going forward.
“There’s always room for improvement in any relationship, so we’ll see.”
Mayfield was asked if he could forgive Beckham.
“Yeah,” he said. “I think any sort of conversation could go a long way.”
While it appears Beckham’s release may be imminent, the Browns could be trying to see if things can be fixed.
Mayfield has not spoken with Beckham, but said he would be willing to move forward with him as a teammate.
“I’m prepared to do whatever, and if he’s back, then we’ll work through it and do whatever it takes,” he said. “I can put my ego and pride to the side to win, because that’s all I care about is winning.
“But if not, then we’ll roll with the guys we have out there. And those guys will know that I completely trust them. And they’ll know that I’m always here for them. And that’s the leader and that’s the type of quarterback I am.”
Mayfield said he didn’t take the video too personally, and can appreciate the elder Beckham looking out for his son.
“Obviously, naturally, he wants his son to succeed,” Mayfield said. “I can’t blame him for that. I want Odell to succeed. That’s where we were at, and at least I thought, so that’s all I really have about that one.”
Before practice, coach Kevin Stefanski said Browns general manager Andrew Berry was in talks with Beckham’s representatives about his future. Stefanski gave blanket answers to questions ranging from whether he would be waived or if things could be fixed.
“There’s a lot of conversations that are ongoing between Andrew and his reps and I’m sure there’s substantive talk towards all those things,” Stefanski said. “We’ll see where this goes.”
Stefanski was asked for the reason behind Beckham being excused from practice.
“Just felt that was the right thing to do,” he said.
Stefanski said he has not spoken to Beckham, a clear sign of a major rift between the Browns and a controversial player with a history of being a distraction.
It’s likely the Browns (4-4) are preparing to move on without the 28-year-old, who is under contract for two more seasons but is not guaranteed any money after 2021.
The Browns are in last place in the AFC North and visit the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) this week.
As Tuesday’s deadline neared, Odell Beckham Sr. shared an 11-minute video on Instagram titled: “Odell Beckham is Always Open for the Cleveland Browns in 2021.” The montage of plays showed Beckham not being thrown the ball by Mayfield.
Mayfield conceded there have been times when he could have done a better job of getting the ball to Beckham.
Their lack of a connection has been an ongoing issue since Beckham arrived in a blockbuster 2019 trade from the New York Giants.
Compounding their lack of chemistry, Mayfield played better and led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 — ending a nearly two-decade drought — after Beckham suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Despite their on-field issues, Mayfield and Beckham have always insisted they get along well. They spent time together during the offseason in Texas, and vacationed together in Montana shortly before the season started.
Mayfield was asked how the relationship got to this fragile point.
“I can’t exactly give you the full answer as to why,” he said. “But I’m here now and I’ve got to be the leader for these guys and we’ll see where the situation goes. I’ve got to do my job, lead. This is a bump in the road of adversity and have to handle it and roll with the punches.”
Mayfield only threw two passes toward Beckham in Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had just one catch for 6 yards, and his other target was a high incompletion in the fourth quarter.
Since returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Beckham has 17 catches for 232 yards and no touchdowns this season. He’s also been playing with a sprained right shoulder that he hurt against Arizona on Oct. 17.