In hindsight, will the Las Vegas Raiders regret not taking a chance on Odell Beckham Jr.? Let’s take a look at why this might be a possibility.
When the disgruntled Beckham ended his tenure with the Cleveland Browns, it seemed as though the stars had aligned for the Silver and Black. Just a week prior, the Raiders cut ties with their top outside option, Henry Ruggs III, after a DUI-related homicide. There was now a gaping hole in the Raiders’ offense that OBJ could successfully fill, albeit with some possible baggage. But after experiencing a decade’s worth of drama in just three weeks, Mike Mayock and company opted to not even pursue the former LSU Tiger, signing recently waived speedster DeSean Jackson instead.
Many viewed this as a wise move by the team’s brass. On the outside looking in, Beckham had just outworn his welcome with a second franchise, and while Jackson is no saint, he’s far removed from his days of being considered a problem child. Plus, on paper, the Raiders did not need to bring in such a volatile target to maintain what they had when Ruggs was still around. Jackson can still take the top off a defense, and that element would be sorely needed now.
However, in bucking the long-honored franchise tradition of taking the league’s Black Sheep and allowing them to flourish, the Raiders may have ensured themselves another year of mediocrity.
The Raiders Are Still In Search Of An X
Many people assumed bringing in Jackson to replace Ruggs in the Raiders’ offense was a no-brainer. Ruggs could burn any defense deep, and even at age 34, Jackson has the same ability. The problem is, Ruggs was establishing himself as much more. HRIII was starting to win all over the field, not just on post routes. He was even starting to deal with press coverage well, making the Alabama product a true matchup nightmare for any secondary. Jackson, on the other hand, is a one-trick pony at this point in his career. If he isn’t streaking down the field, he offers very little value, especially since he struggles with press coverage.
OBJ would have been able to pick up where Ruggs left off as a true number one receiver for this offense. Not only can Beckham make plays downfield, but he can also win on any route you ask. He is an X-receiver in every sense of the term. With Bryan Edwards struggling to find consistency, Hunter Renfrow not being fully utilized, and Darren Waller being constantly bracketed in coverage, the Raiders’ passing game has been a shell of itself the past few weeks.
Odell isn’t the Locker Room Cancer He’s Made Out To Be
With everything going on in Las Vegas, it’s easy to understand why they would want to avoid any unnecessary headaches. The media has painted a picture of Beckham as a cancer to every locker room he’s been in, but is that truly the case? After happily signing OBJ to an extension, the Giants immediately shipped him to Cleveland (a move that did not make sense when it happened). Cleveland was supposed to bring a fresh start, but injuries marred Beckham’s time there. His relationship with Baker Mayfield became a big talking point, but let’s be honest. Mayfield is drowning in talent that he fails to properly utilize.
Can OBJ be emotive and passionate on the sidelines? Sure, but at least you know he gives a crap and wants to win. And the same locker rooms that the media claims he tears apart (while never giving a name as a source) have numerous players that openly refute the claim that Beckham was anything more than a great teammate. Even Mayfield would not speak negatively about the former Brown.
What Would Al Do?
In years past, Beckham would have been on the first plane to Las Vegas. The Silver and Black appear to be a perfect match for his personality and style of play. A flashy, passionate, and eccentric name to add to Raider lore. And yet, for now, it is not to be. The Raiders have spent the better part of the last decade attempting to distance themselves from the outcast image of the past. Jon Gruden’s Steeler receiver fetish aside, they’ve targeted the most “high-character” guys possible in the draft process and in free agency. A move that has yielded very disappointing results more often than not on the field of play.
Signing Beckham was clearly seen as a move the old guard would have jumped at, but quickly dismissing the idea due to a narrative doled out by the media was classic overthinking. This team is walking a tight rope with talking heads waiting to feast upon them at the first misstep. But this regime must know that their future is not secure. A one-year flyer on Beckham would not be the make or break decision of their employment. However, a third consecutive collapse in the second half of the season could be. You can’t play to win and play it safe. Mike Mayock and the powers that be want to renew the tradition of the Raiders, but in forgoing the chance at the lottery ticket that was OBJ, they forgot rule number one. Just Win, Baby.
*Top Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images