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Despite having done nothing on field yet, the 2019-20 Cleveland Browns (under the general management of John Dorsey) have already been crowned winners of the AFC North by some and AFC and Super Bowl LIV Champions by others, and that’s all due to the NFL’s newest super-tandem, Baker-to-OBJ.
That is, the Browns’ second-year quarterback phenom Baker Mayfield passing the football newly acquired Odell Beckham Jr., better known as OBJ, the third-best wide receiver in the NFL (according to fantasy stats), creating a pass-catch duo that Browns fans and the entire football world cannot wait to witness.
Now that Baker-to-OBJ is a reality, we unpack how this powerful new partnership came to be, and we take a look at the odds and predictions just released by some online sports books on Mayfield’s and Beckham’s 2019 regular season production.
But first, here’s a little background information on the main characters of this story.
Baker Reagan Mayfield will be 24-years-old on April 14, and the 6-foot-1, 215-pound quarterback originally from Austin TX has been a so-called walk-on his entire life.
First, he was a walk-on player for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, then he transferred to the University of Oklahoma where he became the first walk-on true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for a BCS school.
After winning the Heisman Trophy his senior season and setting all sorts of NCAA and Sooner football records, Mayfield was drafted first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns and by Week 4 became their starting quarterback and he did not disappoint.
Mayfield brought the Cleveland Browns their first win in almost two seasons, and with him under center and former running backs coach Freddie Kitchens as the new head coach, the team went 5-3 over the last half of the 2018 season and gave a city used to losing football games the first glimmer of hope they’d had in decades.
Odell Cornelious (his spelling) Beckham Jr. is a 26-year-old wide receiver born in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, who was raised by a single mom and became a First-team All-American and First-team All-SEC playing football for the LSU Tigers.
As a New York Giant, OBJ had a record-setting, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year start, including a Pro Bowl appearance, which he followed up with two more Pro Bowl seasons and until an ankle injury kept him out of most of the 2017 season, it looked like he was untouchable.
Last season, OBJ was productive, despite sitting out the last four games with a quad injury, but rumors of unhappiness being a Giant began to surface and whispers of trade possibilities were heard.
Right before the 2018 season, New York gave Beckham a $95 million contract extension “with $41 million fully guaranteed with a total of $65 million in guarantees,” which made it even more shocking when this month the Giants announced that they had traded Beckham to the Browns for a first and third round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers.
After a rich history of winning or at least coming close, the Cleveland Browns were moved to Baltimore in 1995 by then owner Art Modell, but the city was permitted to keep the team’s name and colors.
After sitting out three painful seasons, the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 as basically an expansion team and in the two decades since have only made it to the playoffs once but have gone through over two dozen starting quarterbacks and a 1-31 stretch.
Since John Dorsey became general manager at the end of the winless 2017 season, the Browns have assembled a playoff-worthy roster of players that began with the drafting of Baker Mayfield and has continued most recently with the trading for OBJ.
John Michael Dorsey is a former NFL linebacker who has worked his way up the NFL administration ladder from scout in 1991 to director of player personnel and Football Operations to finally general manager, first of the Kansas City Chiefs and now of the Cleveland Browns.
Known to have an excellent eye for talent, Dorsey built up much of the Chiefs’ roster you see today, though he was fired from that job due to management style, communication and salary cap issues.
The Browns hired Dorsey hours after they released previous general manager Sashi Brown in December, 2017, and since then Dorsey has built up an impressive, youthful roster using his genius for spotting talented players and coaches and his nerve to go after big-name talent, make unpopular choices and his ability to close the deal.
Only because Dorsey, who had the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, saw him as a franchise quarterback when the rest of the football world was screaming for Sam Darnold, the prototypically sized quarterback from USC.
What Dorsey saw in Mayfield went beyond his highly accurate and strong arm, beyond his off the chart football IQ, beyond his questionable height and speed.
It came down to Mayfield’s swagger, his confidence, and the willingness he showed to get the job done, which was to come into a town used to losing football games and turn them into winners.
Dorsey knew Mayfield was the one to do it, and against a lot of counter advice, pulled the trigger and selected Mayfield first overall, calling him “Buddy Boy” on the phone as he shared the news.
That’s been the big question regarding OBJ’s trade, because after the Giants gave him that huge extension, general manager Dave Gettleman said very clearly, “We didn’t sign him to trade him.”
But in a move that some suspect was an effort to obtain another first round draft pick so they could work a deal for a young quarterback, the Giants traded away OBJ along with the responsibility of his larger contract.
Somehow Dorsey tapped into that situation, said the right things and closed the deal, despite not offering two first round picks as many suspected a Beckham trade would demand.
Now OBJ will have young Mayfield rifling balls at him instead of the aging veteran Eli Manning, who many suspect is very near the end of his NFL career.
When you watch film of either player, you see young athletes with high-level skills at the height of their careers.
The thought of an accurate arm like Baker, who suffered many dropped balls last season, connecting with a consistent receiver like OBJ, who sometimes had to make spectacular grabs because of inaccurate throws, causes Browns fans and football fans in general to drool at the possibilities.
The NFL has become pass- and score-heavy, and having a deep threat receiver who can get open like Beckham paired with a quarterback with the arm to get him the ball like Mayfield has become a major recipe for postseason success, and fans are hoping for another Mahomes-Hill, Goffe-Cooks or Ryan-Jones connection.
Currently, the Browns have the best odds to win the AFC North (+125) and the third-best odds to win the AFC Championship (+800).
As for the Super Bowl, the odds of the Browns winning it are now +1400.
For reference, those are the same odds as for the Chicago Bears and they’re actually better than the Indianapolis Colts (+1600), the Los Angeles Chargers (+1600) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (+2500).
There are three major categories of odds for Mayfield’s 2019 regular season: passing yards, touchdown passes and interceptions.
In 2018, Mayfield played in 14 games and threw for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns (an NFL record) and was intercepted 14 times.
There are four major categories of odds for OBJ’s 2019 regular season: leading a stats category, total receptions, touchdowns and total receiving yards.
In the twelve games he played in 2018, Beckham led no stats categories, had 77 total receptions, 6 touchdowns and 1,052 total receiving yards.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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