BEREA, Ohio — With his second straight day of being excused from practice, Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s future in Cleveland is very uncertain, but as his representation continues to talk with general manager Andrew Berry, Beckham's teammates aren't giving up on him yet.
"I feel like the majority of this locker room would love to have him in this building, flat out," said Browns safety John Johnson III.
Beckham is currently away from the team, working through his future on the team after an online debacle with him and quarterback Baker Mayfield in the middle.
On Tuesday, 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 online storm 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.
On Wednesday, Beckham was listed on the team's pre-practice injury report as out with a "shoulder/non-injury related personal matter," being excused from practice for the day while his reps talked with Berry.
That trend continued on Thursday and sources tell News 5 this will be a day-to-day process until talks are complete and a deicison is made.
Despite the drama and sense of division from those outside looking in, the Browns, at face value, are saying quite the opposite.
"We think he’s a great player when he’s on the field, but we don’t know what the situation is. We don’t know what’s really going on. We probably know as much as you guys know from outside the building. But if he wants to come back and be part of the team, I’m sure we’d welcome him with open arms," said offensive lineman Joel Bitonio.
Linebacker Malcolm Smith said that the situation is now between Beckham and the front office, but no matter what, he and the team inevitably just want what's best for Beckham at the end of the day—but won't spend too much time dwelling on it all.
"It’s one of those things where it gets personal and business is kind of between the front office and people who make those kinds of decisions. Personally you want the best for him, the best situation for him. That's how I feel whether it's here, if he wants to be somewhere else, whatever he wants and what’s best for him," Smith said. "So obviously as a team we’d love to have him but for me I really don’t spend to much time thinking about it."
The Browns can try to quickly mend the situation between Beckham and Mayfield and get them back on the field together, they could waive Beckham outright, or they could burn a roster spot on him and keep him away from the team until things settle or the season ends.
Johnson said that he thinks Beckham's excusal from practice comes down to him being the more movable piece when it comes down to him and Mayfield, but that he hopes there's still a way to get Beckham back.
"In this case, it’s kinda like O’s a moving piece and I guess the leaders in this building feel like we can do it without him. Some guys might have a different opinion. But I think that’s just the biggest difference. One is a quarterback, one is a receiver that’s missed time, that we’ve played without him. I think that’s the biggest difference," Johnson said. "So moving forward, I’m going to keep saying it, hopefully we can get him back somehow, but if not, we’ve got to keep it going."
No matter what happens with the situation, Mayfield said that he's open to mending the relationship with Beckham and only cares about winning—with or without any one player.
"I'm prepared to do whatever. 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," Mayfield said. "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. That's the leader and that's the quarterback I am.”
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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