Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. officially cleared waivers Tuesday, left unclaimed by the Seahawks or any of the other 30 teams who had a shot to take on his $7.25 million contract for the rest of the season.
And that means the race is now on for teams who may want to sign him as a free agent, a group thought to include the Seahawks, though also intriguingly may include the Green Bay Packers, Seattle’s opponent Sunday.
The 29-year-old Beckham was waived by Cleveland on Monday. That meant teams had a 24-hour period to claim him. But claiming him meant taking on the rest of his contract of $7.25 million for the rest of this season after the Browns restructured it over the weekend.
That relatively hefty fee had led to the conventional wisdom that Beckham would not be claimed — teams preferring to try to get him at a lower salary, and knowing the Browns now have to eat $4.25 million of the deal. And ultimately Beckham slid through waivers when the deadline passed Tuesday at 1 p.m. PT.
It’s also thought that’s what Beckham preferred so he can now choose his new home and a new contract.
Will that new home be Seattle?
There continued to be speculation Tuesday it could be, based in part on coach Pete Carroll’s comments Monday that didn’t rule out that Seattle would at least consider claiming him.
“He’s a really good football player,” Carroll said. “He’s as talented as you could be in the years past, and so you’re always looking for guys that can do special stuff. I’ve forever shared with you guys that we’re looking for uniqueness and people that are different than other people and give you different dimensions to their play. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out and investigate and see if there’s a chance and all that kind of stuff. If it makes sense.”
But a report from Jordan Schultz Tuesday afternoon stated that Beckham has “prioritized the Packers” as his No. 1 choice of a team to sign with in free agency.
Beckham is thought to want to play for a playoff contender and an elite quarterback.
Seattle has the QB in Russell Wilson, as do the Packers with Aaron Rodgers. But Green Bay has a better shot at making the playoffs with a 7-2 record to Seattle’s 3-5, while Green Bay also may also be considered to have more of a need at receiver than the Seahawks. And that might allow Beckham a larger role in the offense for the rest of this season as well as positioning himself better for a larger contract for the future, with it thought likely he will sign now for only the remainder of the 2021 campaign.
Beckham has also been thought intrigued by going home to New Orleans — where he was born — to play with the Saints, who are 5-3 and also desperately need receiving help. And a Yahoo.com report also suggested the Chiefs could be interested, and the 49ers have been thought interested all along.
One question teams may have about Beckham is how healthy he is. He has injuries to both shoulders and also suffered an ACL tear last October.
Also a question is whether Beckham’s declining production this year is due to aging and injuries, or due simply to the way he was being used by the Browns — and his unhappiness over his lack of targets led to his waiving by the Browns.
Beckham is averaging career lows in just about every category with 17 receptions on 34 targets for 232 yards and no touchdowns in six games. His passer rating when targeted is just 72.2.
Beckham’s frustration peaked after he had just one catch on one target for 6 yards in 43 snaps in a 15-10 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 31 — his final game for the Browns.
Seattle may feel that it is set at receiver with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who are among the top 17 in the NFL in receiving yards per game, and rookie Dee Eskridge returning to practice this week from a concussion.
The Seahawks could also consider claiming former Rams receiver Josh Reynolds, who on Tuesday was waived by Tennessee. Reynolds played from 2017-20 with the Rams when current Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was an assistant there, including having his best season a year ago with 52 catches for 618 yards (he had just 10 catches for 90 yards in five games for the Titans this season). Reynolds could be claimed for just $500,000 for the rest of the season.
Seattle has over $13 million in available cap space, one reason it was thought the Seahawks might make a waiver claim.
But Seattle could carry that money over to next year, and one thought is the Seahawks may want to use some of it to account for roughly $9 million in cap space it has devoted in 2022 to void years for Duane Brown, Quandre Diggs, Gerald Everett and Ethan Pocic, all players who will be free agents at the end of the season.
But Beckham can now be had for much less of a cap hit for this season, which figures to pique Seattle’s interest. While Seattle has added veteran players before at midseason, it has done so at far less financial commitment than it would have had to make to Beckham (when the Seahawks claimed Josh Gordon in 2019, for instance, he was owed only $1 million).
And it’s a possible a decision is not imminent as NFL reporter Josina Anderson of USA Today stated Beckham “will take some time and assess the best situation for him with several options still on the table.”
For now, we wait and see if the Seahawks will try to get in the Beckham sweepstakes now that he is free.