The Browns are in a mat. They just don’t realize it yet.
When it comes to dealing with receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., there is nothing to negotiate. Nothing to discuss. With business not an option, their choices are to let him return to work, suspend him without pay for conduct harmful to the team, or release him.
They try to come up with another approach, “excusing” him from team activities while figuring out what to do. According to several reports, he is “excused” again Thursday. Even if he wants to exercise.
Basically, they suspend him with pay. Starting with the 2006 CBA, teams lost the ability to do so. If he fights it, he will win. They cannot keep him outside the facility, or outside the exercise field.
They could, in theory, suspend him without pay for four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team and force him to file a complaint. At the end of the day, Beckham would receive his money after winning. In the meantime, the Browns would delay their arrival with a new team.
But that would be a terrible aspect for the Browns, exacerbating the distraction while also sending a bad message to current and future players about the way the Browns are doing business. Look at the Steelers. As coach Mike Tomlin has said many times (and most recently this week), it’s better to have volunteers than hostages. If Beckham wants to go out, let him go. While this can become a dangerous precedent, the broader goal should be to create an environment that makes players want to be there. The Browns failed to make Beckham want to be there.
The Browns are better off without Beckham. Beckham is better with the Browns. Although the Browns may not want to see Beckham finish with the Chiefs or the Bills or the Ravens or the Steelers, the best game is to let him go. The only play is to let him go.
The fact that, as coach Kevin Stefanski said on Wednesday, GM Andrew Berry is speaking with Beckham representatives suggests there is something to talk about. It is not. They can welcome him back, suspend him without pay, or cut him off. Here it is. And the sooner they decide to move on, the better off they will be.