The minute it was announced Friday morning that Cleveland was set to waive receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Seahawks were immediately mentioned as a team that could become his new home.

But by Friday afternoon, the story changed a bit with the news that Beckham and the Browns agreed to changes in his contract that make it “unlikely” any team will claim him, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Specifically, the Browns and Beckham agreed to wipe out the final two years of his contract, making him a free agent following the 2021 season, but keeping the remainder of his salary for this year.

That means any team claiming Beckham once he hits waivers Monday — claims can’t be made until Tuesday — will have to take on his $7.25 million salary and cap hit for the rest of the year.

Because of that cap hit, Schefter reported that the general feeling around the league is that he is “doubtful to be claimed.”

If not, then Beckham will become a free agent and can pick his team.


Both pieces of news might help the Seahawks, who have been reported as a team in which Beckham could have interest.

Pro Football Talk reported Friday morning that the Saints, 49ers and Seahawks are considered “teams to watch’’ and that “some believe he prefers to go to Seattle, which makes sense given the presence of quarterback Russell Wilson and other receivers who attract plenty of attention.’’

Wilson and Beckham, in fact, have at least something of a relationship — Wilson in the summer of 2019 posted video of a workout that included Beckham. And Wilson has long pushed for the team to acquire just about every receiver available, in each of the past two years publicly advocating for the Seahawks to sign Antonio Brown.

Beckham has to be waived first because we are now past the trade deadline. Once he hits waivers he can then be claimed by any team in what is the current draft order.

Seattle has the ninth spot in the current waiver claim order (it changes each week based on team records) behind Detroit, Miami, Houston, Jacksonville, New York Jets, New York Giants, Washington and Philadelphia.

Any team claiming Beckham has to take on his current contract. Only a few teams seem to have the wiggle room to take that on, including the Seahawks, who as of Friday were listed as having $13.3 million in available cap space, via, fourth most of any NFL team behind only the Jaguars, Eagles and Broncos.


There had been reports earlier Friday that Beckham and the Browns were working on a restructure that would have lowered his cap hit for 2021 substantially and made it more likely he would be claimed by making it so that just about any team could have fit him under their cap.

But Beckham may have wanted to keep the higher cap hit to increase the odds he will become a free agent and then be allowed to pick his own team. If he clears waivers, his contract becomes void and as a free agent he would negotiate a new deal with a team.

The guess here is the Seahawks would be pretty unlikely to claim Beckham and take on that cap hit for the rest of the year, though a team claiming him could then work out its own new deal with Beckham quickly, as Seattle did last year to facilitate the trade of Carlos Dunlap. Seattle did claim Josh Gordon in November 2019. But Seattle only had to pay Gordon $833,824 for what turned out to be five games played.

Would Seattle be interested in Beckham as a free agent? First, he’d have to be interested in the Seahawks for Seattle’s interest to matter. As noted, he does have something of a relationship with Wilson.

But Seattle already has one of the best receiving duos in the NFL in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf — each in the top 12 in receiving yards this week but doing so despite neither being higher than 24th in targets (Lockett; Metcalf is 28th).

A common assumption is that another reliable target could help open things up even more for Metcalf and Lockett. But the question could be raised of why the team would do anything to potentially decrease the targets for Metcalf and Lockett, especially since one of the reasons the Browns are waiving Beckham is his apparent unhappiness with the amount of targets he was getting in Cleveland.


Seattle also is hoping to soon get back rookie Dee Eskridge, the 56th overall pick in the 2021 draft and the second-highest pick of a receiver in the Pete Carroll era behind only Paul Richardson at 45 in 2014. Eskridge has not played since the opener due to a concussion but is expected to return to practice next week. 

And the Seahawks have hoped to carve out a big role for Eskridge in the offense, not just receiving but also getting fly and jet sweeps — a key component of Shane Waldron’s offense. Eskridge had two carries for 22 yards in 12 snaps against the Colts before he was injured.

Adding Beckham would almost certainly consign Eskridge to a fourth-receiver role. Penny Hart, who has essentially been the fourth receiver with Eskridge out and Freddie Swain moving up to the third WR role, has played just 68 snaps in seven games since the opener. While it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks want to consign such a high pick to a No. 4 receiver long-term, for half a year, that might not be a worry.

There’s also the question of exactly what a team will be getting in Beckham. He made the Pro Bowl his first three years in the league from 2014-16 but hasn’t since, and has played just 42 games since 2016 while battling a slew of injuries, including an ACL tear last year.

The assumption is his lack of recent numbers is due mostly to his frayed relationship with Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield. But that’s the gamble a team claiming him will be taking.

Pro Football Focus offered this scouting report of Beckham on Friday: “Beckham Jr.’s 66.1 receiving grade ranks tied for 73rd among the 134 wide receivers with at least 10 targets this season. He has eight explosive receptions of 15-plus yards, and his 14.3-yard average depth of target ranks 25th among that same group of wide receivers. The veteran pass catcher is still just over a year removed from a torn ACL, so perhaps there’s optimism that he will improve as the season goes on. While he may not be 100%, he can still consistently create separation from defenders and now wants a quarterback who can deliver him the football when he’s open.’’

Beckham had decided Mayfield could not be that QB any longer. But could Wilson? Get ready for a long weekend of speculation.