The last time NFL fans saw Odell Beckham Jr. was in Super Bowl 56 grasping at his left knee after a playoff run during which he looked much like the player the nation fell in love with early in his career. Made famous by one of the greatest catches in NFL history, Beckham started his career with an Offensive Rookie of the Year award, two All-Pro selections and three Pro Bowls.
Across his first five seasons, his 92.6 receiving grade and 2.29 yards per route run both ranked fifth at the position and his 82 forced missed tackles placed fourth. Beckham was on a historic pace as an almost surefire future Hall of Famer, even if we saw a slight decline in production over the next five seasons. Unfortunately for the charismatic superstar, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns and never replicated his success receiving passes from Baker Mayfield.
In 2019, he cracked 1,000 yards for the fifth time in six seasons — only missing the mark in 2017 due to injury — but his 69.4 receiving grade and 1.76 yards per route run were career lows and indicators of what was to come. He tore his ACL in the seventh game of the 2020 season, and Mayfield and the Browns immediately started firing on all cylinders, making the playoffs and winning the franchise’s first playoff game since 1994.
OBJ returned in Week 3 of the 2021 season, and he and Mayfield struggled to click. It eventually led to him being traded to the Los Angeles Rams, but he still continued to struggle, grading out at 67.7 and generating just 1.22 yards per route run. Then the playoffs arrived, and the superstar we hadn’t seen in years showed up with an 84.7 receiving grade and 2.67 yards per route run. Unfortunately, his stellar play was cut short due to reinjuring his left knee with another ACL tear, forcing him to miss the entire 2022 season.
If Beckham’s knee is back to 100%, which by all reports is the case, he should have fresh legs to give a new team a few years of explosive play. When healthy, he remains one of the best separators in the game with elite skills at the catch point. Here are three teams that would benefit from a late-career OBJ.
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New York Jets
This one is obvious based on reports of Aaron Rodgers having a wish list of players for the Jets to acquire if he’s to join them. Garrett Wilson just won Offensive Rookie of the Year, and New York signed free agent and former Green Bay Packer Allen Lazard. Adding Beckham to the group would give the Jets two elite route runners and one of the strongest wide receiver rooms in the NFL.
While Rodgers (assuming the trade happens) needs his wideouts to run precise routes and Beckham tends to ad-lib on routes, there will be an adjustment period. Regardless of whether Rodgers to the Jets happens, the Jets adding OBJ would be beneficial for whoever starts at quarterback.
The Bills adding Beckham would give quarterback Josh Allen two elite separators at the position with Stefon Diggs. Gabe Davis is a flash in the pan who is capable of monster games but may disappear for large stretches of the season, as well. Beckham slotting into the No. 2 role would force teams to pick and choose whom to cover and open up the passing offense when things get stagnant, as they did in the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals. Teams already fear stopping Allen in the air and the ground, so the addition of OBJ just makes the thought even more terrifying.
Similar to the Bills, the Cowboys’ offense struggled in the playoffs in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers and their elite defense. A big reason for that is the lack of a strong receiving corps. CeeDee Lamb is emerging as one of the top weapons in the NFL with his 87.0 receiving grade in 2022, but after him, the next highest-graded wideout was Michael Gallup, who looked a step slow coming back from his injury in 2021. Enter Beckham to give Lamb more open looks and a short and intermediate threat for Dak Prescott to target.
Bonus: Kansas City Chiefs. Just give Patrick Mahomes another weapon with which to terrorize the NFL.