Another day in an NFL offseason often means another rumor about Odell Beckham Jr.
But in a conference call with reporters Thursday, Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta debunked the latest one, saying Cleveland has not been in trade talks with the Minnesota Vikings about OBJ.
"I will just say it was completely false," DePodesta said of the report. "It is frustrating a little bit, obviously. I think it is pretty clear what we are trying to build at this point.
"We are really building around a core of players that we think have a chance to be a championship-caliber core. The idea that we would take away from that core at this moment just does not make a whole lot of sense and is really not something that we are exploring at all. It is completely false.”
It was only a year ago that the Browns acquired the three-time Pro Bowl receiver from the New York Giants in exchange for a first- and third-round pick plus former Round 1 defensive back Jabrill Peppers.
WR Odell Beckham's first season in Cleveland generally didn't go as planned. (Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)
Beckham has four years remaining on a five-year, $90 million extension he signed while still playing for New York.
However he generally had a disappointing 2019 campaign in Cleveland – his receptions (74), yards (1,035) and TD grabs (4) all represented career-lows for a full season – mirroring the 6-10 season the Browns produced, which fell well short of expectations and ended with the firing of first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Beckham also battled a core muscle injury that required surgery in January.
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Cleveland will have another rookie under the headset in 2020 with Kevin Stefanski coming aboard after previously serving as the Vikings offensive coordinator. First-year GM Andrew Berry seemed to get off on the right foot with an impressive free agent haul, which included the signings of tackle Jack Conklin, tight end Austin Hooper and backup quarterback Case Keenum, who was previously coached by Stefanski in Minnesota.
If not for the fact that the novel coronavirus pandemic has prevented the new regime from indoctrinating players into the program, this team might be once again generating buzz as a playoff dark horse candidate for the upcoming season.
As for a separate narrative that Beckham already wants to leave Cleveland, DePodesta offered one further response.
“I am not going to speculate on it, but I have no reason to believe he doesn’t want to be here," he said.
"Odell has been very good this offseason. He has been engaged with Kevin. I think he is excited about the possibilities of what this offensive system could bring for him, and we are excited to have him.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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