Could salary cap concerns force a trade for the Cleveland Browns?

Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

For the first time in years, the Cleveland Browns find themselves in a situation where they aren’t in the top three in cap space heading into a season.  While that makes things trickier for general manager Andrew Berry, it’s also a huge positive because the team finally has some talent that is worth paying.

The Browns aren’t in a huge amount of trouble with just over $20 million of cap space heading into the season, but with a few big deals that are inevitable with Denzel Ward and Baker Mayfield, you may see a few moves in the 2021 offseason that fans disagree with. Not to mention, 2021 could be the first season in years where the cap goes down from the previous season, mostly because of lost revenue from COVID-19.

Ben Axelrod of WKYC-TV believes that Odell Beckham could be a star player that is traded because of the projected $20 million decrease in the 2021 salary cap. And while you may think there’s no way the Browns could find a trade partner Beckham, there are a couple of reasons that could be advantageous to the Browns.

One, Beckham is under contract for three more seasons, and only has a cap hit of $15 million, which isn’t terrible for a player of his caliber. While health is certainly a concern, the top receivers in the league are now getting paid more than $20 million per year, so the risk/reward could be appealing to some teams.

Two, the free agency market isn’t that great for wide receivers this year. While guys like Allen Robinson, Marvin Jones, and JuJu Smith-Schuster are available, none are true elite NFL players. Basic laws of supply and demand tell us that a thin market could easily drive up the market on mediocre talent. Teams will ask, “Should we pay Beckham $15 million or Robinson $18 million?”. Even with the injury history, the Browns may be surprised by the interest they get.

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Although Beckham has all the talent in the world, the Browns should seriously consider a trade if they can find the right value. Beckham could be a sneaky draft-day deal if a team misses their guy at wide receiver and doesn’t want to overpay in free agency.