BEREA, Ohio — It was chilly outside in Berea on Wednesday afternoon, but the potential cold front everyone is really concerned about is the one between Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after a drama-filled debacle on social media the day before. The relationship may be strained, and Beckham’s future in Cleveland is as uncertain as ever—but Mayfield isn’t closing the door on repairing the situation just yet.
"I think any sort of conversation could go a long way,” Mayfield said.
On Monday, Beckham's dad took to Instagram, sharing an 11-minute compilation video of moments his son appeared to be open but wasn't passed to by Baker Mayfield. Beckham's dad was also active in the comments, agreeing with some speculation that Mayfield was intentionally missing Odell Beckham Jr.
Hours after Beckham's dad posted on Instagram and social media was buzzing with opinions, NBA superstar LeBron James weighed in on it, as did Damian Lillard and Dez Bryant, among others.
The rumblings came two days after a Browns loss to the Steelers that saw Beckham get just two targets. His one reception for six yards marked a career-low for the wide receiver.
Beckham was excused from Wednesday's practice, listed on the team's pre-practice injury report as out with a "shoulder/non-injury related personal matter."
With Beckham out, as well as Jarvis Landry, who was out with a knee injury, Mayfield worked through the open portion of practice throwing to Donovan Peoples-Jones (who returned to practice after being sidelined with a groin injury), Rashard Higgins, Anthony Schwartz and JoJo Natson, as well as the tight ends.
With Odell Beckham Jr. excused from practice today and Jarvis Landry out with a knee injury, Baker Mayfield gets throws in with Rashard Higgins, Donovan-Peoples Jones, Anthony Schwartz and JoJo Natson, as well as the tight ends. #Browns pic.twitter.com/RhMPYpfA42— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) November 3, 2021
After practice, Mayfield walked to a charged podium, knowing he'd be facing the questions regarding the Beckham situation.
Mayfield said that he was probably just as surprised as everyone else to see the video Beckham's dad posted and to read the comments he wrote under the video—but also said he didn't want to speculate if Beckham had a hand in what his dad posted.
"I can’t exactly speculate on who exactly he was speaking on behalf of. I think a lot of it comes from his father’s perspective," Mayfield said. "I think obviously, naturally, he wants his son to succeed. 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.”
Mayfield, like head coach Kevin Stefanski, said he has not talked to Beckham since the online incident but doesn't see the relationship as over, necessarily.
"I thought we had a very open line of communication going into it, so we’ll see. As I said, I was more surprised than anything as everybody was. We’ll see going forward. There’s always room for improvement in any relationship, so we’ll see," Mayfield said.
While he hasn't talked to Beckham directly, he did talk to Landry, who is Beckham's best friend, about the situation—but only to an extent as to not cause any more division.
"I think like I said earlier, we all want to see O succeed, there’s no doubt about that. We’re just going to take it one day at a time. So, we didn’t get into too many details because I don’t want to draw that line in between them at all, that’s not what I’m trying to do. But Jarvis wants to win just as badly as I do and that’s the types of focus we need to have right now," Mayfield said.
Mayfield addressed the comments Beckham's dad made about him intentionally not throwing to the star wide receiver, clarifying that he would not change his game to feed Beckham the ball but did say there were throws he could have made differently.
"I mean, there’s been plays and things where he’s not exactly the first read, which we talk about spreading the wealth around because we have a lot of weapons. And there’s been throws that I would love to have back. We talk about the Minnesota game, where it’s minor things," Mayfield said. "It is what it is, and there’s always things to get corrected. Now, am I going to focus only on him and force him the ball? No, because that’s not who I am and that’s not how this offense operates. You saw that last year and that’s how I’m going to handle it."
As general manager Andrew Berry continues talks with Beckham's reps to determine his future in Cleveland, Mayfield said he'd be willing to accept an apology from Beckham and work on the relationship but said that no matter what happens, the Browns have one goal in mind this week—winning.
"I’m prepared to do whatever, and if he’s back, then we’ll work through it and do whatever it takes. 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."
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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