After a relatively quiet 20 months with the new Cleveland Browns regime, the social media sideshow that often travels behind Odell Beckham Jr. has officially entered the picture.
Following what was arguably the most frustrating game in Beckham Jr.’s Browns tenure (a one-catch, six-yard performance in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers), his father, Odell Beckham Sr., took to his own verified Instagram account to vent his frustrations toward Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The video reposted by Beckham Sr. highlighted multiple in-game miscues where Mayfield appears to either miss Beckham Jr. on a particular play or choose not to throw to him. The video appeared to be clipped from nearly all the games Beckham Jr. has played this season since returning from a knee injury. Beckham Sr. then appeared to go further in targeting Mayfield in the critique, replying with three checkmarks to a comment that suggested Mayfield was “hating on Odell or he just doesn’t want him shining.”
That post created enough of a social media buzz to get the hashtag “#FreeOBJ” trending on Twitter — which got a big boost from self-professed Browns fan LeBron James. In the past, James has maintained a friendship with both Beckham Jr. and Mayfield.
It all carried shades of Beckham Jr.’s final year with the New York Giants, which became a consistent sideshow of passive-aggressive remarks from people in the wideout’s circle toward Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Eventually, the drama led to the team trading Beckham Jr. to the Browns.
Despite continued frustration inside the Browns offense basically since his arrival, Tuesday was the first major dustup surrounding Beckham Jr. under the new regime of general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski. It was Stefanksi who tried to quell some of the frustration around Beckham’s performance on Monday, telling reporters that some of the responsibility for getting him more opportunities was on the head coach.
“First and foremost, I need to do a better job,” Stefanski said. “I really do. I need to make sure that I put him in position to make some plays and I didn’t do a good enough job, certainly [Sunday]. Having said that, he gets a lot of attention from the defense. There were a bunch of plays where the safety is cheating to him and that opens up opportunities for other guys.”
All of the drama has done nothing but fuel the notion that Cleveland should trade Beckham Jr. at Tuesday’s deadline. However, multiple league sources told Yahoo Sports that Beckham’s remaining $8 million in salary and health issues this season had all but wiped out his trade value.