Will Odell Beckham Jr. Leave Cleveland? Browns and Minnesota Vikings Reportedly Working on Trade for OBJ

In March last year, Odell Beckham Jr. was the toast of Cleveland after the Browns pulled off a sensational trade to acquire the star wide receiver from the New York Giants. Just over 12 months since arriving in Ohio, the 27-year-old is reportedly already looking for a way out of Cleveland, with trade rumors swirling around Beckham.

On Wednesday, Marc Malusis, the co-host of Moose and Maggie on New York City's WFAN660 station reported that the Browns and the Minnesota Vikings were working on a trade package that would send the former LSU alumni to Minneapolis in exchange for a second and fifth round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

So, as I reported this morning on @MandMWFAN, Source has told me that the Browns and Vikings are in discussions on a trade that would send @obj to the Vikings for a 2nd and 5th round pick next year. Trade is not done, but the deal is being discussed.

— Moose™ (@MarcMalusis) April 15, 2020

Later on the same day, FOX Sports' host Colin Cowherd also suggested the Browns and Vikings could soon open negotiations.

"He's not gonna make a big deal," Cowherd said on his show, The Herd.

"He'll deny it. He wants to get along with everybody. ... Let's just say this: OBJ will not go public, [but] he knows Minnesota is a good place. He knows it's a good fit."

Cowherd was among the first to indicate Tom Brady will sign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month and suggested the information over Beckham's future had come from the same source.

The rumors, however, were swiftly shut down by Browns beat writer and Pro Football Hall of Fame selector Mary Kay Cabot, according to who the Vikings had described the possibility of a trade as completely false.

Received a one-word answer from a source close to the #Vikings about the report they're talking to the #Browns about trading for Odell Beckham Jr. for a 2nd & 5th next year: "False"

— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) April 15, 2020

On the face of it, the trade makes sense for both Beckham and the Vikings. The three-time Pro Bowl selection endured a difficult first season with the Browns, scoring just four touchdowns, just one more than in an injury-ravaged 2017 season, during which he played only four games. Despite battling a host of fitness issues, Beckham racked up over 1,000 receiving yards, but hauled in a career-low 55.6 percent of targets and NFL data shows his receiving yards per target stood at 7.8, the second-lowest figure he recorded in his career aside from the 2017 season.

After 11 consecutive seasons with a losing record, the Browns were expected to be firmly in contention for the playoffs last year after signing Beckham and former Kansas City Chiefs star Kareem Hunt, but hopes soon evaporated as Cleveland reverted to type and ended with a disappointing 6-10 record.

After impressing in the second half of his rookie campaign, quarterback Baker Mayfield showed signs of regression and there is little to suggest the Browns have done enough in the offseason to close the gap with the Baltimore Ravens, who won the AFC North last season after finishing with the league's best overall regular season record.

The Vikings, on the other hand, went 10-6 and reached the playoffs for the third time in six seasons under Mike Zimmer, defeating the New Orleans Saints on the road in the Wild Card round, before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. Minnesota has lost Stefon Diggs in free agency and Beckham would fit the mould as a like-for-like replacement and allow Zimmer to pair him with star receiver Adam Thielen, in what would be one of the best pair of wideouts in the league.

A significant financial hurdle stands between the Vikings and Beckham.

The Browns wide receiver has another three seasons left on his five-year, $90 million deal he signed with the Giants in 2018, according to Spotrac figures. The three-time Pro Bowl selection is due $14.2 million this year, while the Vikings have $12.2 million in cap space, meaning Minnesota would have to make another significant move to clear up space for Beckham.

With a draft class loaded with wide receivers, some mock drafts expect as many as five wideouts to be chosen in the first round, the Vikings may opt for a cheaper option to replace Diggs.

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Wide receiver Odell Beckham #13 of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sidelines during the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 38-24. Christian Petersen/Getty