Despite his hefty salary, the NFL’s reduced salary cap and the fact that the Browns made it to the divisional round of the playoffs without him, Odell Beckham Jr. will remain in Cleveland for the 2021 season.
Not only will Beckham (who is slated to make $14.5 million next year) be back, the Browns have no plans to part with Jarvis Landry, who is on the books to make $12.5 million next season. Cleveland would like to re-sign Rashard Higgins, who is set to enter free agency on March 17. Higgins’ market value is at nearly $25 million over four years, according to Spotrac.
“I think he’s a dynamic player who can be incredibly productive in this system, so we’re looking forward to getting him back healthy,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry recently said of Beckham, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Berry added that Beckham is “doing great” as he continues to rehab from his torn ACL injury. The three-time Pro Bowler caught 23 of 43 targets for 319 yards and three touchdowns in seven games last season before sustaining his season-ending injury. In 2019 (his first season in Cleveland), Beckham caught 74 of 133 targets for 1,035 yards and three touchdowns.
Berry also confirmed that he and the team would like to bring back Higgins, who caught 37 passes for a career-high 599 yards and four touchdowns last season. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Higgins has caught 113 passes for 1,615 yards and 11 touchdowns during his first five seasons.
“He obviously played a key role for us this past year,” Berry said of Higgins, “and we have a really positive history with him. … We’ll maintain consistently good communication with him and his reps. We’ll see where it goes.”
Berry laughed when asked about Landry’s cryptic tweet that was posted late last month. While the tweet created a momentary stir, Berry said that the Browns have no plans to part with Landry, who is signed through the 2022 season.
“He played really well for us last year,” Berry said of Landry, who led the Browns with 72 catches and 840 yards last season. “He’s one of our team leaders. Unfortunately, I don’t follow him on Twitter. We like Jarvis a lot.”
Despite their pricy receiving duo, the Browns currently have just under $25 million in estimated salary cap space. One of the reasons why the Browns have favorable cap space is that fact that they have a quarterback — Baker Mayfield — who is still playing under his rookie contract. Mayfield, who enjoyed a solid 2020 season following a disappointing 2019 campaign, is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The Browns have until May 3 to pick up Mayfield’s fifth-year option, which would likely pay him somewhere between $20-25 million — all guaranteed — for the 2022 season.
While every team has holes, the Browns are in a good position to build off of last year’s 11-5 record and wild-card round win over the Steelers. Landry, Beckham and Mayfield are all under contact, as well as running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Myles Garrett, the team’s leader in sacks last season, is signed through the 2026 season.
Higgins, outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, defensive backs Kevin Johnson, Terrance Mitchell and Karl Joseph, and right tackle Kendall Lamm are among the team’s top free agents. The Browns are expected to focus on improving their front seven on the defensive side of the ball over the next several months.