Odell Beckham Jr.’s time with the Clevland Browns came to an end this week after the club officially waived the Pro Bowler as his relationship with the team — and quarterback Baker Mayfield — seemingly became fractured beyond repair. With a receiver of Beckham’s talent level now available, it’s natural to wonder whether or not he’d be a fit with the Patriots. After all, Beckham has been a rumored target for New England dating back to his days with the New York Giants and the receiver has shown admiration for Bill Belichick and the Patriots in the past.
When asked if New England, in general, would consider signing a high-end free agent midway through the season, Bill Belichick told reporters on Friday, “Yeah. We’ve done that before. We brought in [Aqib] Talib in the middle of the season. You’d have to evaluate any situation. I don’t really know any specifics to talk about, so at this point, there’s nothing to really talk about. We’d do anything we could to help our football team. We brought in James Harrison with one game to go in the season.”
Of course, there are multiple factors at play if New England was going to pursue Beckham. The first hurdle surrounds the NFL waiver wire. The Patriots sit at No. 15 on the waiver priority list, so the 14 clubs above them would have to decide against placing a claim on him for New England to have a shot at landing Beckham on the roster through that process. While you’d think teams would be clamoring to claim Beckham, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’d be available for the Patriots through that avenue or clears waivers entirely.
The Browns and Beckham agreed to a restructured contract that waive the final two years of his contract and will make him a free agent this offseason. However, any team that claims him would have to absorb his remaining $7.5 million. That makes it a bit more likely that Beckham clears through waivers. If that comes to fruition, he’d be an unrestricted free agent immediately and free to sign wherever he’d like. Currently, the Patriots are just under $4 million in cap space (h/t Over the Cap).
While there would be some financial hoops to jump through (and possibly pitching the receiver in free agency), adding a player of Beckham’s talent level could be exactly what this Patriots offense needs. Even at this point in his career, Beckham can be viewed as a top-flight receiver that opposing teams would need to gameplan against on a weekly basis, which is something they currently don’t have. He’s a crisp route-runner and has a tremendous catch radius. Paired with an accurate quarterback like Mac Jones and Beckham could again find significant statistical success in the league and make New England’s offense that much more dynamic.
However, one of the main reasons why Beckham’s relationship with the Browns soured was due to his lack of involvement in Kevin Stefanski’s run-first offense. Entering Week 9, the Patriots have been a run-heavy team themselves, so Beckham would likely need to be convinced that he’d be a focal point in the passing attack if he were to land in New England.
As Belichick noted this week, the Patriots have never been shy about adding top talent mid-season. If they were to do so again with Beckham, that addition potentially has a ceiling that could invoke flashbacks of when New England traded a fourth-round pick to the then-Oakland Raiders for Randy Moss. Certainly, it’s worth kicking the tires on.
Here are some other news and notes surrounding the Patriots this week.
How to watch
Date: Sunday, Nov. 7 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Patriots 3.5, O/U 41
Sunday will be the first time the Patriots will see cornerback Stephon Gilmore since the club traded him to the Panthers on Oct. 6 for a 2023 sixth-round pick. The former Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl LIII champion met with the media this week leading up to this matchup against his former team and relayed some frustration regarding his final months with the team, specifically about how the club handled his injured groin.
“The only thing [was] I just didn’t like how they handled my situation with my injury,” Gilmore said this week of the groin injury he suffered in Week 15 of last season and forced him out for the rest of the year. “A lot went on with that that I didn’t agree with and now that I am here, I am able to do the things I need to do to get me back and be ready to where I need to be.”
Naturally, the contract — Gilmore was entering the final year of his deal with a base salary of just $7 million — was a piece to the puzzle of discontent, but the corner did say he “learned a lot” while with the Patriots and has “a lot of friends there” so even in an icy divorce there still seems to be an admiration for what they were able to accomplish together.
Of course, that likely won’t hold him back from wanting to get the better of his old team on Sunday.
N’Keal Harry stays with Pats post-deadline
The 2021 NFL Trade Deadline came and went and the Patriots were uncharacteristically quiet during this major mile-maker of the season. While no players came through the Gillette Stadium doors, no players walked out either. That’s particularly noteworthy when considering the status of wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who requested a trade through his agent prior to training camp.
“Yeah, I’m a Patriot,” the former first-round pick told reporters this week when asked if he’s happy with how things have played out, via WEEI.com. “I said it earlier, I want to do anything I can to help this team win. That’s my focus.”
Harry also added that he “wasn’t worried about anything trade-wise.”
Entering Week 9, Harry has carved out a small role in the offense and has drawn praise from Bill Belichick and others. He is coming into this game against Carolina after his best statistical game of the season where he caught two balls for 30 yards in the win over the Chargers.
In an alternate universe, Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson would be suiting up for the Patriots on Sunday. Leading up to this Week 9 matchup between Carolina and New England, Anderson revealed that the Patriots — specifically Bill Belichick — tried to sign him in free agency in March of 2020.
“When I played them, from what I can remember, (Belichick) usually would put man coverage (with) a safety over the top and scheme me, do things like that,” Anderson told reporters, via NESN.com. “Kind of take me out of the picture. He even told me that, too. Last year when I was in free agency, he tried to get me to sign. He was like, ‘I’m tired of scheming against you. I’m tired of going against you.'”
Anderson added that he “of course” considered signing with the Patriots, but made the “business decision” to sign a two-year, $20 million deal with Carolina.
Judon puts $10k back in his pocket
After nearly two months, Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon has some extra cash to toss round. In Week 1, Judon was fined $10,300 by the NFL for an unnecessary roughness penalty that he was called for during a scrum along the Dolphins bench area. This week, the edge rusher won his appeal, meaning he’ll get that money back.
Naturally, he took to social media to celebrate getting that cash back and relived it on Thursday when asked about it by reporters.
“Oh yeah!” said Judon, via. “Yeah, man. I guess the good people at the NFL office see fit that they should give my money back, and I agree with them. So I thank them, and I thank that they took their time and they came out with a decision that I liked. But that’s just kind of how it is.”
He added: “Football is bang-bang and when you get to slow it down and you can actually see it and you can take a step back and take a very long, two-month look at it, they came out, like I said, with the decision that I liked. So I appreciate you, Jon Runyan, for going with what I thought you should do. So, thank you.”