Because the signing of Odell Beckham Jr.’s Rams will not be a repeat of Antonio Brown at the Buccaneers


OBJ in Los Angeles might sound a lot like AB in Tampa Bay. But Odell Beckham Jr. who made the Rams his third NFL team is very different from Antonio Brown landing with the Buccaneers as his fourth team.

There are natural comparisons to be made with the mid-season signings of talented but fickle receivers. But it’s bending the truth to expect Beckham to have the same impact Brown had in 2020 in helping the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl.

The 2021 Rams appear to be positioned similarly to where the Bucs were last season, such as a No. 5-seeded wild card in tough NFC that needs to make a race all the way to a ring. Los Angeles is 4-0 away this year and second in their division behind the Cardinals; this is a bit of a parallel with Tampa Bay finishing second to the Saints in the South while going 6-2 away before the previous playoffs.

MOREOVER: Why is Beckham signing with the Rams?

Brown was fantastic reuniting with Tom Brady after his short stint in the Patriots. In the middle of a regular season in 2020, which was then eight games, he had 45 tricks for 483 yards and four TDs. When he was in good health for two playoff games, the wild card match in Washington and Super Bowl 55 against the Chiefs, Brown scored in each and made a big impact. That’s what the Rams hope with Beckham.

Brown was added to a receiving body that Mike Evans and Chris Godwin already had. The Buccaneers at the time were concerned about the injuries of those two and Scotty Miller, as well as the inexperience of then rookie Tyler Johnson.

The Rams brought Beckham to join their two aces, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Second-year man Van Jefferson emerged as a key director as he took on the role of Brandin Cooks as a big-play threat of speed and haste. The team is passed by veteran sprinter DeSean Jackson; his wide receiver depth chart is now completed by rookie Ben Skowronek and unselected second-year man JJ Koski. Second-round rookie Tutu Atwell, who was set to replace Jackson, is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

CAMENKER: How OBJ fits into Rams’ WR depth chart

Beckham gives the attack a third veteran behind the well-seasoned Kupp and Woods. They are counting on him to mesh with QB Matthew Stafford and manager Sean McVay as Brown did with Brady and Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

But here’s the problem: Brown remains a top player at the age of 33. Although he recently wasted time with an ankle injury, he didn’t come to the Bucs with the same endurance concerns as Beckham at the Rams.

At times, Brown played as the catcher found he was in his early Steleers days. Sometimes, it is questionable who the No. 1 wide between him, Evans and Godwin. Brown has a specific role as a home run hitter and experienced runner to complement the other two; the credit goes to him for not being a diva in getting the ball thrown.

Beckham just turned 29, but he hasn’t been a prominent receiver in the NFL in five years, though some may still think he is. He’s been knocked down by injuries since his peak with the Giants. First, it was a fractured ankle in 2017. Then it was a quadriceps injury that disrupted his 2018 season. During his first year with the Browns in 2019, he battled a core muscle injury that required a post-season surgery. In 2020, he suffered an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. This year, persistent knee problems slowed him down early and then he suffered a new shoulder injury.

MOREOVER: Revisit Beckham’s Giants Business at Browns

The bottom line is that Beckham is a shell of the player he once was. It doesn’t have the same speed and explosiveness. It is admirable that he did his best to overcome injuries, but the results are not there and this is not related to doesn’t connect well with Baker Mayfield in the passing game of the Browns.

Brady and Brown had established chemistry from their short stint together in New England. Stafford will have to work hard to get on the same page as Beckham, given how stuck he is already in Kupp and Woods. Stafford isn’t at his best when he’s trying to force feed a wide receiver. Jefferson has blinked and deserves more time to become an ideal No. 3, however.

MOREOVER: Mayfield wishes Beckham “good friend” upon release

Beckham should be perceived as a pure game of depth by the Rams as Jackson is gone and Atwell can’t show what he can do until 2022. Brown has turned into a necessity in Tampa with his top-tier play. There is nothing to suggest that Beckham will suddenly return to being the elite receiver he has been briefly with the Giants.

Like Cam Newton who signed with the Panthers, the biggest asset Beckham brings this season is his big name and his big game past. The gift for OBJ is the stark reality that he is a wobbly receiver. It’s no coincidence that the Browns’ passing bout improved with second-year man Donovan Peoples-Jones taking over as the main outside target for Mayfield last week.

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If anyone can pull anything of considerable value out of Beckham again, it would be McVay. But as good an offensive schemer as he is, he can’t go back in time and push Beckham’s physical limitations.


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