Within the near future new GM Andrew Berry will have decisions to make financially. This could potentially mean Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr moving out of Cleveland.
It would be a shock to see either playing elsewhere in 2020. Extensions are needed for Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb and possibly Baker Mayfield. Within the next season or two, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Browns trade either Landry or Beckham Jr.
As a duo they have one of the biggest cap hits for a receiver tandem in the league. Even in a pass heavy league, it may not make sense to have nearly $30m in capital tied up in two wideouts in a run heavy offense which new head coach Kevin Stefanski is expected to run.
Nonetheless, keeping two premier weapons in a pivotal year for Mayfield is basically a lock. The Browns quarterback can enter the 2020 season with confidence knowing he has an abundance of weapons in the passing and run, in addition to the offensive line Berry has addressed throughout the offseason so far.
Baring that in mind, it feels inevitable Berry will have to make a decision at some point between the two. When it reaches that point, their on-field chemistry with Mayfield, production, schematic fit, and contract details will be determining factors for who will be released or traded.
At this moment in time, Landry clearly has more chemistry with the former Oklahoma quarterback than Beckham Jr has. How much that can be attributed to Odell’s injuries last season will be determined this year.
Beckham, when fit, is a superstar receiver with his blend of agility, exceptional route running and ability to expand the field with ease. This makes him a big threat in Stefanski’s system and should show at the very least show similar production to Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs from last year.
The former Giants’ man is undoubtedly a better deep threat than Landry. Stefanski’s offensive scheme will likely feature plenty of play-action. Big plays down the field can be setup more effectively through play-action, making Beckham Jr a better system fit and more essential than Landry.
Landry’s strength mainly lies in the slot, operating as a weapon underneath. While Landry has been a strong weapon for Mayfield, the Browns could find a cheaper option for half of the price, re-signed fan favorite Rashard Higgins is a cheap, reliable, familiar option. There is also Austin Hooper, who is expected to be used in the intermediate parts of the field.
Salary will be the biggest decisive factor for which wideout Berry and co. opt to keep. When looking at their current contracts, the new GM could move on from either receiver with minimal cap space implications. Beckham Jr has no remaining guarantees in his contract after 2020, meaning the Browns wouldn’t have to deal with any dead cap hits after this season should Beckham Jr move onto greener pastures.
In terms of contract length, the former LSU alum has four seasons remaining before he hits free agency in 2024 at age 31. Landry, on the other hand, has three seasons remaining on his deal signed prior to the 2018 campaign and would leave three million in dead money if released in 2021. Therefore money won’t hinder Berry’s ability to make the best decision for the team.
If the Browns enjoy a successful campaign in 2020, they could easily run it back with both Beckham Jr and Landry in 2021. This is aided by the fact that Baker Mayfield, and to a lesser extent Denzel Ward, will be in the fourth year of their cheap rookie deals, aiding the team’s attempt to capitalize on a potential playoff window while they have the opportunity. Although trading or releasing either Beckham Jr or Landry isn’t a guarantee, it is a notable possibility which could play out when they face a cap crunch within the next three years.