By Albert Breer April 01, 2019
Odell Beckham Jr. has told the Browns he will be present and accounted for when they begin their offseason program on Monday. And here’s the thing—even if Beckham couldn’t make it to Berea in time, that would have been OK, too.
Sound funny? If so, that’s because for players, this part of the NFL calendar—teams with new head coaches may begin offseason workout programs on April 1—is optional to begin with. Beyond that, Freddie Kitchens, the new head coach in Cleveland, understands that because the blockbuster trade for his new star wide receiver happened less than three weeks ago, Beckham had long-standing plans for this phase of his offseason to start on April 15, so he’s had to move things around to allow for his offseason to start two weeks earlier.
In the meantime Kitchens and Beckham have been texting. What’s important to Kitchens isn’t that he and his new star are together physically for a single day in the spring—it’s that they’re connected on another level when it really counts.
“Just like it is with everybody on our football team, he can trust me,” Kitchens said from his office on Friday. “I’m never going to betray their trust. I’m always going to shoot them straight. It’s never going to be ‘undecided’ on where I stand, they’re always going to know that in every situation they’re involved in. And every decision will be based on what’s best for our team.
“At the end of the day, I really truly feel, at the bottom of my heart, that’s all Odell wants. He wants to be able to trust somebody, and he wants somebody to be able to trust him. I think that’s what the kid wants. And that’s what he’s going to get here.”
Beckham’s attendance may be treated as a huge deal by those on the outside, but it won’t be internally by the Browns, as a new era begins. That era, of course, is being ushered with in perhaps the highest expectations Cleveland’s had for its football team since Bill Belichick was coach, which is, at least in part, because Beckham is now there.