Even considering his relatively unspectacular statistical output in recent years, often limited by injury—that is not to say there has been a lack of spectacular play—the Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham, Jr. continues to be regarded as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
Cleveland’s acquisition for his contract last offseason, in fact, sold many on the idea that they would win the AFC North and even contend for the Super Bowl, following substantial growth that they had shown the year before, posting a 7-9-1 record, the closest they have come to a non-losing season in over a decade.
Instead, the Browns went 6-10 last year, and despite playing in all 16 games, Beckham failed to even make the Pro Bowl, barely eclipsing 1000 yards receiving in the final week of the season, with four touchdowns to his name.
But he also played the entire year with a groin injury, which he had surgically repaired this offseason. And he also appears to be over many frustrations that were evident stemming from his first year in Cleveland, including the fact that he was traded in the first place.
He recently revealed that he had dyed the tips of his hair again—“the blonde is back”, it was declared upon the reveal on a YouTube broadcast with some fellow NFL players, including Cam Newton. And with the hair style is the return of a mindset as well.
“This is how I feel. I’m tired of playing your game”, he said, according to Jake Trotter. “That humble shit, when you are inside, like, we are humble men … but they’ve taken that humbleness as a weakness and they shit on us. It’s crazy to me, because when you’re up and you’re talking, they hate it. And for me this year, I’m trying to kill. Like, that’s it”.
Beckham set the NFL on fire as a rookie first-round pick with the New York Giants in 2014, catching 91 passes for 1305 yards and 12 touchdowns despite the fact that he missed four games. A year later, he would catch 96 passes for 1450 yards and 13 scores, then 101 passes for 1367 yards and 10 scores.
It was among the most prolific starts to a career in NFL history, and at the time, he led the NFL in career receiving yards per game all-time at 95.9. in his three seasons since, however, he has averaged 74.7 yards per game, which is of course still impressive—it would translated to 1194 yards over 16 games, but he also only has 13 touchdowns in 32 games played, averaging 6.5 touchdowns per season during that time.
The blonde is back, but will the on-field Beckham of old be back as well? Improvements to the offensive line and natural strides expected from Baker Mayfield, plus a healthy groin, provide optimism on that front for Cleveland, but it has to happen on the field.