CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns said Friday that they plan to release wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., ending a tumultuous week for the wide receiver and the team.
"After careful consideration, internal discussions and conversations with Odell and his representation, we've determined that it is in the best interest of all parties involved that Odell no longer play for the Cleveland Browns," read a statement from Browns general manager and VP of football operations Andrew Berry. "We appreciate all his efforts and contributions while in Cleveland, but we've just reached a point where it is best that we move forward as a team without Odell. We are finalizing the process of granting Odell his release and we wish him well as he continues his career."
Friday marks the wide receiver's 29th birthday.
Beckham was excused from practice several times this week and was listed on the team's pre-practice injury report as out with a "shoulder/non-injury-related personal matter."
"I would just tell you today he's excused, and we'll see where this goes," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said earlier in the week. "Andrew Berry and his representatives are continuing to talk, so for today, Odell will not be out there."
And now, he's gone.
In three seasons, the oft-injured receiver played just 29 games, gaining 1,682 total yards and scoring eight touchdowns.
Earlier this week, Beckham's father, Odell Beckham Sr., took to Instagram to share an 11-minute compilation video of moments his son appeared to be open but wasn't passed to by quarterback 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 Sr. posted on Instagram and while social media was buzzing with opinions, NBA superstar and northeast Ohio native LeBron James tweeted and called on the Browns to "#FreeOBJ" ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline. Other pro athletes like Damian Lillard and Dez Bryant also weighed to support the wide receiver.
The rumblings came two days after a Browns loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that saw Beckham get just two targets. His one reception for six yards marked a career low for the wide receiver.
Beckham was acquired by the Browns in 2019 in a trade with the New York Giants.
Then-general manager John Dorsey sent safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler, and the Browns' first- and third-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft to New York in exchange for Beckham and Olivier Vernon.
In his first season with the Browns, Beckham played in 16 games with 74 receptions for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns.
Last year, Beckham played in seven games before tearing his ACL in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The receiver underwent surgery to repair the tear and spent the entire offseason rehabbing to get back on the field with his team — a team that made their first playoff appearance in 17 seasons and got their first playoff win in 26 years after his injury.
Through this year's training camp, Beckham seemed to be gearing up for an explosive return, showing off his crisp cuts and agility in drills, showcasing his innate ability to make absurd catches and having fun with his teammates each day.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, the preseason experience didn't translate into the regular-season games.
Through the six games he played with the Browns this year, Beckham only totaled 17 receptions, with 34 targets, for 232 yards and no touchdowns to show for it.
Beckham returned from his ACL injury in Week 3 but suffered a shoulder injury in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals. Despite being limited in practices, he had not missed a game since his return.
His production this season was not something he, nor his family, was happy with, as made clear on social media Tuesday — but the drama and chaos initiated by Beckham were irreparable.
Now, without Beckham, the Browns will move on with Mayfield as their quarterback and one less receiver on the roster. It won't be easy to put a situation as toxic and high-profile as this one behind them, but they'll attempt to as they focus on their crucial division game Sunday against the Bengals.
"We work really hard in this building to concern ourselves with things that are going on in this building and concern ourselves with the Cincinnati Bengals, and that's really where we're laser-focused on the task at hand," Stefanski said.
Where Beckham ends up next is anyone's guess. Once he goes on waivers, any team can claim him.
This story was originally published by Camryn Justice on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.