Why Boomer Esiason Thinks Patriots Should Steer Clear Of Odell Beckham Jr.

Would OBJ be a locker room distraction in New England?

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One could argue the Patriots should try to land Odell Beckham Jr., as he’s a talented wide receiver who would add another element to New England’s evolving offense.

One also could argue the Patriots should pursue OBJ for the purpose of keeping him away from other AFC contenders, including the Bills, whom New England closed the gap on Sunday by defeating the Carolina Panthers as Buffalo shockingly fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, now an analyst for CBS and a radio host for WFAN, isn’t buying either rationale. He believes the Patriots should steer clear of Beckham in wake of the three-time Pro Bowl selection’s Cleveland Browns departure.

“I don’t care if the Bills do or not (sign Beckham). Good, take him. He’s just going to ruin your team,” Esiason said Monday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “I mean, look at what happened with Cleveland (on Sunday). His replacement is DPJ — Donovan Peoples-Jones — (Baker Mayfield) hit him right down the middle of the field for a 60-yard touchdown against the Bengals. And that team hasn’t looked that relieved and that good in the last four, five weeks.

“It’s something when you show up every day and you have to worry about whether one particular person is happy with his touches, with his targets and all this other crap that he did here in New York. So, I say, ‘Good riddance.’ Cleveland is better without him. I don’t know who’s going to sign him, and I know he wants to go to a contender. I would think he’s going to want to go to more of a sizzle-type of contender. I’m not saying that New England isn’t sizzling, but I think like the Rams or maybe the Vegas Raiders — somewhere like that — I would think he would be more inclined to go to.”

The Browns announced last Friday they were releasing Beckham, who had been excused from practice on back-to-back days after his father posted a video to Instagram of Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield misfiring on pass attempts to OBJ or not throwing to the wideout entirely.

Beckham reportedly since has restructured his contract with the Browns before being placed on waivers. Multiple team executives told ESPN’s Adam Schefter it’s “likely” Beckham will clear waivers, at which point he’ll be free to sign with any team.

The Patriots long had been linked to Beckham in trade rumors. And it’s fair to wonder whether New England will pursue the 29-year-old given the mutual admiration that exists between him and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, plus the franchise’s continued need for a No. 1 wide receiver.

But there’s a case to be made that New England isn’t a great fit. After all, Mayfield struggled to build chemistry with Beckham, and the Patriots have their own young quarterback in rookie Mac Jones.

“(Beckham) would be a different player under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. There’s no question about that,” Esiason said. “He’s gonna come here and behave, and he wouldn’t be the distraction that he became in Cleveland, that he became in New York. So, I think wherever he goes, however, there either has to be that really strong presence at head coach — which you do have there in New England — or there has to be a combination of the strong head coach and a strong quarterback.”

“In the locker room, he could really be a distraction,” Esiason added. “And most of the young guys kinda gravitate to him in the locker room. And when the young guys gravitate to a guy like that, sometimes it leads to just a lot of negativity with the younger players coming up within the organization. It’s gotta be a really unique spot, it’s gotta be a strong spot and they better have a strong quarterback presence.”

Coincidentally, the Patriots will host the Browns this Sunday at Gillette Stadium — an interesting matchup that would be even more fascinating if OBJ took his talents to Foxboro in the coming days.

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