By Cullen McIntyre, Sports Editor
Just two years after failing to win a single regular season game, the Cleveland Browns have added one of the biggest names in the National Football League to their roster, Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants.
— NFL (@NFL) March 13, 2019
Beckham Jr., most famously know for his outrageous one-handed sideline catch in 2014, has become a superstar in the NFL. The 26-year-old wide receiver lead the Giants in receiving last season with 1,052 yards on 77 receptions and six touchdowns.
During the disappointing 5-11 finish, Beckham Jr. continuously expressed his frustrations and anger in how poorly his team was doing, leading to many trade rumors. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman stated a week before the trade, “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him”, but that clearly was a false statement.
Beckham Jr. teams up with a strong offensive unit of sophomore quarterback Baker Mayfield, former LSU teammate and close friend Jarvis Landry, as well as running back Kareem Hunt. The Browns have stacked their team with talent since their terrible 2017 season, and have shaped one of the most talented teams in the NFL.
Cleveland finished last year with a 7-8-1 record, nearly getting their first playoff appearance since 2002, the longest current post-season drought in the NFL. With AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers losing two of their top players in Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell to the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets, the Browns main competition in their division will be the Baltimore Ravens.
Since the addition of Beckham Jr., the hype around the Browns has reached another level, with some touting them as Super Bowl LIV contenders. But will the newly formed offense and defense that ranked 21st in points allowed last season be able to make it all the way to Miami next year? They have the talent, but I don’t think it’s likely.
I’m not saying the Browns are still the team that finished in last place 13 times of the 17 years the AFC North has existed, but there are two powerhouses in the AFC they will have to get through to have a chance to the Super Bowl. The obvious one being the Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots, and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots, no matter what state their team is in, always challenge for the Super Bowl. Tom Brady may play until he needs a walker and still win his 15th Super Bowl. Jokes aside, the Patriots under Bill Belichick will be there in the playoffs, and no matter how many people hate them, there is no better playoff team than the Patriots.
The Chiefs on the other hand, are full of young talent in 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and star wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs nearly made the Super Bowl last season, but the Patriots barely bested them in the AFC Championship. There is only upside when you look at this team, and I’m sure they will be wanting to get revenge on the evil empire in New England.
But with the Cleveland Browns coming into the mix, they could challenge both of these teams in any game. On paper this team is clearly a Super Bowl contender, but until they take the field together week one, there is no definite answer.
The Browns have the talent, but with Hunt and Beckham Jr. both known for causing issues in the locker room, the chemistry could be hurt by their actions. But should head coach Freddie Kitchens be able to control his players, they may surprise a few, and myself in pushing for not only a playoff spot, but a spot in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.