One of the most polarizing players in the NFL is set to become available on Friday, with the Cleveland Browns officially parting ways with disgruntled wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after three seasons with the team. After being acquired by Cleveland from the New York Giants in 2019, Beckham had one full, successful campaign with the Browns in 2019, but has been riddled with injuries and poor production over the last two seasons.

This season, Beckham caught just 17 passes for 232 yards over six games with no touchdowns scored. Beckham has reportedly been upset with his role in the Browns offense, with his father posting a video critical of quarterback Baker Mayfield passing up Beckham in key passing situations.

With the NFL Trade Deadline passing earlier this week, Cleveland missed their chance to get any assets in return for Beckham’s services, but have still decided to move on without Beckham, reworking his contract and sending him to the waiver wire.

On the same day of his release, Beckham celebrates his 29th birthday, and while it would be foolish to think the wide receiver can still put up the true #1 receiver numbers he put up in New York, Beckham is still physically talented and could help almost any NFL offense: that is, assuming he’s engaged and willing to play.

Beckham’s temper and drama comes with the territory, making him a slightly risky pickup for any team involved. But with the Browns restructuring his contract, his next team will pay him $7.5 million for the rest of this season, and could move on from him after the season if things don’t work out. With Beckham’s personality taken into account, claiming him off the waiver wire might not be the smartest idea: what if a high-priority team takes him, but Beckham decides he doesn’t want to play there?

Again, while a healthy, engaged Beckham would be good for virtually any NFL franchise, there is still risk involved with any team that picks him up. Here are five teams where I see a need for an upgrade in the wide receiver room, with the risk tolerance or franchise stability to not allow Beckham to derail what the team already has going.

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have tried to trade for Beckham in the past, so right now could be the perfect buy-low opportunity. Beckham could slot in as a secondary option to wideout Deebo Samuel, leapfrogging the struggling Brandon Aiyuk and being a clear upgrade over an ageing Mohamed Sanu.

San Francisco is 3-4 and could certainly use additional offensive firepower to try and claw back in the NFC West race, or at least a potential wildcard position. Jimmy Garoppolo has played decent this year, but has thrown just six touchdown passes over six games. If the 49ers marriage works out for Beckham, he could also be a key offensive piece moving forward if the franchise shifts to Trey Lance at quarterback next season.

Green Bay Packers

This is a make-or-break season for the Green Bay Packers front office, as it was an uphill battle just to get Aaron Rodgers back in green and yellow this Fall. Coming off back-to-back NFC Championship Game appearances, the Packers likely need to break through to the Super Bowl if they want a chance at retaining Rodgers services moving forward.

Green Bay already went out and got Rodgers one of his favorite targets, Randall Cobb, but adding Beckham to the wide receiver mix would make the Packers offense even more lethal. Top wideout Davante Adams has hauled in 52 catches over just seven games, but Cobb is the team’s second-leading receiver with just 17 catches. With Beckham on the depth chart, Rodgers could lead a more pass-happy offense, and the 7-1 Packers could set their eyes on a deep postseason run.

Dallas Cowboys

In terms of pure football needs, the Dallas Cowboys are pretty set at wide receiver, with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb co-anchoring one of the best receiving corps in football. But while both are expected to play this week, Cooper and Lamb both appear on the Week 9 injury report, and wide receiver Michael Gallup is currently on IR working through a calf injury.

Adding Beckham to the fold would give the Cowboys insurance at wide receiver, ensuring their season wouldn’t be lost if Cooper or Lamb went down for any extended period of time. The only issue would be: would Beckham accept a role as the #3 receiver on Dallas’ depth chart? Dak Prescott could still get Beckham the ball on one of the NFL’s highest-flying offenses, but would there be enough targets to keep the disgruntled wide receiver “happy?” At the same time, a smaller role makes signing Beckham less risky from the Cowboys perspective.

But if everything works out, Beckham could be next in a long line of superstar, “diva” wide receivers to play for America’s team. It could also be a sap in the face to the New York Giants, with the former face of their franchise lighting it up for another NFC East team.

Baltimore Ravens

Would the Baltimore Ravens take a chance on a former NFC East wide receiver past his prime? Almost exactly one year ago, on October 27, 2020, Baltimore signed former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant to their practice squad after missing the entirety of the previous two seasons. Could the Ravens take a similar leapwith Beckham?

Lamar Jackson has put up some good numbers this season: 1,943 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions while completing 64.9% of his passes over seven games with a 5-2 record so far. But with essentially the entire AFC North within striking distance of the Ravens, Baltimore shouldn’t stay complacent.

Marquise Brown is the Ravens top receiving threat, with 37 catches, 566 yards, and six touchdown receptions on the year. Tight end Mark Andrews has hauled in 37 passes of his own for 516 yards and three touchdowns. But after that? Sammy Watkins as caught 18 passes and Devin Duvernay has caught 13 through seven games. No other Ravens player has more than 10 receptions this season.

As Jackson and the Ravens continue to contend for the AFC North title, Beckham would be a valuable weapon, making for a dynamic one-two punch opposite “Hollywood” Brown.

New England Patriots

Here’s somewhat of a dichotomy: Bill Belichick are well versed in taking in veterans and otherwise “project” players and making the most of them. But the New England Patriots are also a no-frills franchise, and may not want to deal with Beckham’s antics and ego.

Then again, Randy Moss seemed to work out pretty well in 2007. Obviously this is a completely different team 14 years later, but if the one constant, Belichick, sees value in Beckham, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a low-risk, high-reward move for the wide receiver.

Mac Jones has been exceeding expectations, and the Patriots are 4-4 through eight weeks this season. That puts New England in the potential running for a playoff spot, but with three of those four wins coming against the New York Jets and Houston Texans, New England needs to do more to compete against the league’s better teams.

Beckham would likely be asked to toss some ego aside to be part of a balanced passing attack: Jakobi Meyers leads the team with 45 catches, Kendrick Bourne has caught 26 passes, and Nelson Agholor has 22 receptions through eight games. Tight end Huntry Henry has hauled in a team-high four touchdown passes on 25 catches, with fellow tight end Jonnu Smith catching 20 passes and one touchdown.

Adding Beckham to the Patriots offensive arsenal would make Mac Jones passing attack deep, well-rounded, and unpredictable, forcing opponents to guard the entire field. How well Beckham’s personality could mesh with New England’s culture would be the make-or-break factor.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I didn’t originally intend to put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on this list, but hear me out. While I think Beckham makes sense for the other teams on this list, many secure teams will stray away from a potentially locker room-altering addition this late in the season. While the Buccaneers make probably the east sense of any of these teams from a football standpoint, I can’t overlook them and then wish I included them in the seemingly unlikely event Beckham signs with Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers have assembled an insanely talented offense, and have no shortage of former league-leading talent, with Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowksi, as well as Richard Sherman on defense and last year, LeSean McCoy at running back. Tampa Bay has created a megateam of talented players, many with question marks and troubled pasts. Could Beckham be the newest addition to this polarizing roster?

Again, from a football standpoint, the Buccaneers don’t need Beckham and probably wouldn’t be able to get him the ball too often. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are a talented duo at the top, with Brown and Gronkwoski eating most of Tom Brady’s remaining targets. But if Beckham wants to be part of something special, Tampa Bay would be an extremely intriguing destination.

To make things even juicer, Beckham has expressed admiration for Brady in the past and the two players would reportedly like to play together. Tampa Bay would also be an ideal spot for Beckham to chase his first Super Bowl ring.

For Beckham to land in Tampa Bay, he would likely have to clear the waiver wire with the 6-2 Buccaneers near the bottom of the priority order. But if Beckham gets to choose his team and Tampa Bay calls, I wouldn’t be too surprised if he accepted, as unlikely as the marriage may look on paper.

Las Vegas Raiders

A need for a wide receiver? Yes, with Henry Ruggs III released from the Las Vegas Raiders, there’s a clear hole on Derek Carr’s offense. Ruggs had caught 24 passes for a team-high 469 yards and tied a team-high with two touchdown catches prior to his fatal DUI crash leading to his release. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is still on the team, with a team-high 38 catches, and Darren Waller is a great receiving tight end, but after that, Las Vegas receiving options are thin and unproductive so far this season. Beckham might not step in and be Carr’s #1 receiving threat, but as an offensive starter, he would definitely get passes thrown his way.

Willingness to take a chance on the problematic wide receiver? The Raiders are already overcoming adversity and drama this season, first with head coach Jon Gruden’s departure and now with Ruggs’ arrest and release. What’s a little bit of hotheadedness from Beckham going to do? While Antonio Brown didn’t necessarily work out with the Raiders, his brief tenure with the team didn’t damage the franchise.

The Raiders are 5-2, unexpectedly atop the AFC West, but they lost their best receiver just after the NFL Trade Deadline. The chance to sign Beckham could give Las Vegas the extra push they need to stave off the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs to win the division.

Kansas City Chiefs

Does Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs offense need Beckham? Not really, but crazier things have happened. While the Chiefs have already signed Josh Gordon as a potential reclamation project, Beckham would be much more ready-to-go in his arrival to Kansas City.

The Chiefs have a lot of problems that have led to their unexpected 4-4 start this season, and lack of offensive weapons isn’t exactly one of them. But if Kansas City can’t fix their historically bad defense, why not just overcompensate by loading up on offense? A healthy, productive Beckham could slot in opposite the speedy Tryeek Hill, while Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle could side down in to more appropriate supporting roles.

Out of the eight teams on this list, Kansas City is one of the least likely, but if Beckham wants to chase a Super Bowl, the Chiefs could be an ideal landing spot. Kansas City also has the benefit of an earlier waiver priority with a 4-4 record, and could block teams already in playoff position from nabbing the wide receiver.

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