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OBJ and D-Jax – To Pursue, or Not to Pursue?

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Charles Robinson @CRob5769

News broke this morning that the Browns are negotiating an agreement with Odell Beckham Jr’s representatives for a release from the team. The news comes after the embattled wideout’s father posted over 11 minutes worth of video of quarterback Baker Mayfield missing the younger Beckham breaking free on numerous routes this season to his Instagram account. It seemed that with the timing of this video – the day of the trade deadline – along with other voices lobbying for Beckham to be “freed” from the Browns (LeBron James had this to say on Twitter as well) via a trade to another team. Cleveland held their ground, likely because the timing of all of this didn’t allow them enough of an opportunity to negotiate a package that was worth it on their end. The opposite could be said about the timing aspect of the Los Angeles Rams attempts to deal veteran wideout Desean Jackson leading up to the trade deadline, but he was waived for likely the same reasons – not enough in return. You would think the Rams would have taken just about any draft capital they could get their hands on at this point, but I guess that wasn’t their prerogative. Now there are two veteran wide receivers looking for new homes, and the team we cover could certainly use help at wide receiver. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each player, and what each could bring to the table for the Chiefs. 

Desean Jackson

We’ll start with D-Jax because of the familiarity factor. Jackson entered his 14th year in the league signing a 1 year $4.5 million deal with the Rams, but he spent the first 6 years of his career in Philadelphia, 5 of those under head coach Andy Reid. Jackson was essentially the same type of weapon for Reid in Philly that a young Tyreek Hill was when Andy came to KC. The electric young return specialist/wide receiver was a thrill ride of a player early on, and even up until the 2018 season was effective with the Redskins and Buccaneers. But 2019 brought a lingering abdominal injury that held him to just 3 games played (9 catches, 159 yards, 2 TD) and a fractured ankle last season held him to 5 (14 catches, 236 yards, 1 TD). He has been healthy in 2021, though, but the production has not been there. Granted, he was playing on a Rams team where he was a fourth option behind Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Robert Woods, but Jackson has only tallied 8 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown this season – most of which came in the Rams 34-24 win over the Bucs in week 3 where Jackson had 3 catches for 120 yards and his lone touchdown. While the thought of a guy who went off against the Bucs is almost enough for me to say sign him right now, I think we need to evaluate a little further. Jackson is 5’10 175 lbs. Mecole Hardman – 5’10” 187…and 11 years younger. Jackson would represent more of the same for the Chiefs as far as their receiving corps goes. One thing that he does bring to the table, however, is experience. He’s also undeniably a better route runner than Hardman and Demarcus Robinson. 

The major concern here has to be the fact that Jackson is 34 and will turn 35 on December 1. With the injuries he’s sustained over the past couple of seasons, he’s certainly lost a step, and would be a risky proposition to assume he could come to the Chiefs and stay on the field. His 100 snaps in Los Angeles this year accounted for only about 19% of the team’s total offensive snaps. To ask him to come into Kansas City and be a number 2 wideout on an offense that runs an even higher volume of offensive plays than the Rams (583 for the Chiefs this season compared to 591 for the Rams) is a very big ask, and a bigger stretch than I think I’d like to admit. The benefit of signing Jackson, though, is since he did clear waivers unclaimed, the Rams were on the hook for the remainder of his guaranteed money for 2021. Meaning he is free to sign with any team in the league, and likely will have to take the veteran’s minimum. If another team offers him more (specifically the Raiders, who are sitting on about $3.1 million in available cap space), we should not engage in a bidding war. 

Odell Beckham Jr

Where do I start? The boom or bust factor here is one of the biggest in the league. We’ve seen OBJ display unparalleled talent at the position, and we’ve seen him twice now sour on his organizations (allegedly) and “demand” trades to get out of town. The debate here is not “is Odell Beckham is good enough to sign” – it’s is his talent enough to justify dealing with the potential risk involved in signing him? In his first 3 years in the NFL the case could be made that he was the best receiver in football. 

2014 – Pro Bowl Selection – 12 games – 91 catches, 1,305 yards, 12 TD 

2015 – Pro Bowl Selection – 15 games – 96 catches, 1,450 yards, 13 TD

2016 – Pro Bowl Selection – 16 games – 101 catches, 1,367 yards, 10 TD

Unreal. He obviously is coming off a knee injury last season that limited him, but his numbers his first season in Cleveland were again fantastic (16 games, 74 catches, 1,035 yards, and 4 TD), so there’s nothing really pointing in the direction of “he’s washed up”. In fact, before his injury last season he was able to put up a 3 TD game for the Browns. The only players to put up more than one in that time frame are Tyreek Hill, Devante Adams, and Tyler Lockett. The dude can still straight up ball out. And based on the reactions I’m seeing on twitter today (found here, here, and here) it seems like most of his teammates (minus maybe the one who lives at the stadium on the commercials) didn’t necessarily want to see him go. You can also find some commentary in there from current NFL cornerbacks who seem to believe he’s still got it.  As of the last update I saw, the Browns were still working out how they will restructure Beckham’s contract and it is still yet undetermined how much a team will owe the receiver if he is claimed off waivers. Assuming the sides are working to expedite this process and make something happen sooner rather than later, one would think the number remaining for another team to pay would be reasonable for a player of his caliber. If the number is right, the Chiefs would be insane not to try to make a play for him. People continue to mention the Packers, Chiefs, Saints, Patriots, and Ravens as potential landing spots for OBJ. If I’m him, I’m looking at Green Bay and KC as preferred landing spots – unless he wants Mac Jones….checking my notes…Trevor Siemien throwing him the ball, I’d say New England and New Orleans are old news to OBJ. Baltimore would be a good option if he were a running back, but unless he runs all of his route in between the hashes I don’t think Lamar’s finding him often enough to make him happy. That leaves Green Bay and KC. He’s a clear number 2 (potentially 1B) option in KC with the receiving corps we have, and he would get to play with Patrick Mahomes. This is the Lebron effect – players are going to want to come to Kansas City to get in on the realistic chance to win a Super Bowl every year. Mahomes has that type of star power and is a much more relatable leader to the younger generation of players than Aaron Rodgers. Unless OBJ is into crystals and ayahuasca. 

At the end of the day, any team bringing this guy in has to believe that their team culture is going to be one that is not just accepting of him, but that embraces him. A culture that he can embrace back. I believe with the strides the Chiefs have made in their locker room not just over the last few years with leaders like Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, and Patrick Mahomes setting the tone, but seemingly in the last few weeks becoming galvanized behind one another in the face of unprecedented criticism for this group – OBJ could relate to a lot of our guys. 

If the money is right, and the fit is there, I think this is a no brainer. Brett Veach, bring us OBJ. I love Byron Pringle, but if OBJ wants 13 to come to KC, we know what needs to happen. Byron would look great in any number.  

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