Baker ‘surprised’ by video, hasn’t heard from OBJ

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BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield admitted to being stunned that the father of Odell Beckham Jr. trashed him over social media, and he said he hasn’t heard from the Browns receiver since the posts went viral.

“Naturally, he wants his son to succeed. I can’t blame him for that,” Mayfield said. “I want Odell to succeed. That’s where we were at — or at least so I thought.”

Beckham might have played his final game with the Browns, as his representation is engaged with Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry on the next steps for the wide receiver.

Beckham was told not to attend Wednesday’s practice, one day after his father posted a video on Instagram highlighting times when Mayfield didn’t throw the ball to Beckham when he was open. In addition to other comments he made, Odell Beckham Sr. responded with three green check marks in the comments section of a post that said Mayfield was “either hating on Odell or he just doesn’t want him shining.”

Beckham Sr. also responded with “#bigfacts” to a post that called Mayfield “mediocre.”

“I’ve had conversations with his dad before, man-to-man, face-to-face, and I was pretty surprised by the video and the intentions and the feelings behind it,” said Mayfield, who scoffed at the allegation that he has deliberately not thrown Beckham’s way this season. “I would be lying if I said otherwise.”

A league source confirmed to ESPN that Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told players earlier in the day that Beckham effectively is not on the team right now, as the two sides were working on a resolution, which NFL reporter Michael Silver first reported.

Still, Mayfield left the door open for a reconciliation — and Beckham’s return to the Browns — if Beckham sought it.

“If he’s back, then we’ll work through it and do whatever it takes,” Mayfield said. “I can put my ego and pride to the side to win. Because that’s all I care about is winning. If not, then we’ll roll with the guys we have out there. And those guys will know that I completely trust them, and they’ll know that I’m always here for them, and that’s the leader and the type of quarterback I am.”

Asked whether he could trust Beckham again, Mayfield said he would have to address the situation with Beckham first before he could answer the question.

Stefanski said before Wednesday’s afternoon practice that he also had not spoken to Beckham in the past 24 hours.

Beckham had one catch for 6 yards in Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mayfield did target Beckham again late in the game, but the wide receiver went up for the ball with only one arm and failed to come down with the catch.

Cleveland’s passing game has struggled in recent weeks, as the Browns have fallen to 4-4 and last in the AFC North standings. Mayfield ranks 27th in QBR (42.2) and has only six touchdown passes. Beckham, meanwhile, ranks 151st in the NFL in receptions per target and 139th in receptions per route run.

Both players have played through shoulder injuries this season.

“A lot of this frustration, the tension that’s built up,” Mayfield said, “because we’re not playing how we should be.”

Mayfield said he had spoken to Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is Beckham’s closest friend on the team, about the incident.

“We didn’t get into too many details because I do not want to draw that line in between them at all. That’s not what I am trying to do,” Mayfield said. “Jarvis wants to win just as badly as I do. Those are the types of guys, the type of focus that we need to have right now.”

Mayfield and Beckham have struggled with their connection since the Browns traded for Beckham during the 2019 offseason. Since then, they rank 57th out of 62 quarterback-receiver duos with a minimum of 125 targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They also rank 59th in completion percentage (55%) and 60th in off-target percentage (27%). Mayfield has also underthrown or overthrown Beckham on 27% of his passes, the third-highest rate since 2019 of any quarterback and receiver.

The Browns face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, this is a part of the job that’s not much fun,” Mayfield said of preparing for a game amid the drama. “You want to try and eliminate the distractions and everything, but trying to get the best out of your teammates is first and foremost, and I think the most important thing for me is trying to elevate the guys around me. Being able to get the focus back on football is extremely important. This is something that’s very unique.

“There’s not a manual for this one. There’s not a handbook on how to navigate this besides talk to people, see how they are feeling about it and just keep it open because this is one of those things that, like everybody can see, it can be a dividing thing or it can be a rallying cry.”

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