What Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. rumors mean for Patriots

Ryan Hannable
February 19, 2019 - 11:22 am

It’s the NFL offseason which means there are new rumors almost every day — some that are true, some that aren’t.

The biggest in the last several days have involved wide receivers Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. With the Patriots’ lack of depth at this position, and being a top priority this offseason, they have been linked to both players.

With that being said, it’s important to look at both cases objectively as it relates to the Patriots.

Beginning with Brown, there’s almost a zero percent chance of him coming to New England. The wide receiver is still under contract with the Steelers, so they control his rights and the likeliest scenario as of now is he is traded. With the Patriots being the Steelers’ top competition in the AFC, it seems nearly impossible that they would actually trade him to pair him up with Tom Brady and Co. Even if the Patriots had the best offer on the table, it seems like it would be a Jimmy Garoppolo-like situation where the Steelers wouldn’t take the best offer just so Brown didn’t go to the Patriots.

Furthermore, Brown’s recent antics make it hard for any team to want him. He’s been all over social media in recent days, including Tuesday morning posting a video where he said he wants interested teams to call him (they can’t since that would be tampering) and he wants guaranteed money.

“If your squad want to win and you squad want a hungry wide receiver whose the best in the whole world, someone hit my phone,” Brown said. “Tell them I ain’t doing no unguarantees. I ain’t even gonna play myself no more for this NFL. . . . I think I done everything. What y’all think? What’s left for me to do? Win a Super Bowl? Gotta be the right team for that, right? . . . If your team got guaranteed money, they want to get to know me and work with me, tell them to call me.”

Beckham is a little more interesting, particularly as it relates to the Patriots.

It remains to be seen whether or not he’s even on the trade block, as this is based off pure speculation. FOX Sports’ and The Athletic’s Jay Glazer had him being traded as his bold offseason prediction, and then on PFT Live Chris Simms said the Patriots tried to trade for him all last offseason, and their interest was part of the reason why he wasn’t traded at all.

The Giants certainly would be more likely to trading Beckham Jr. to the Patriots than the Steelers and Brown. Beckham’s contract is actually relatively team-friendly. He’s signed through 2023 and if traded his cap hits would be in the $15-18 million range, which really isn’t that bad given his talent. 

If Rob Gronkowski were to retire, the Patriots could almost look at it as a swap with Beckham costing just a little more since he’s a receiver. Sure, the Patriots would need to give up multiple draft picks to acquire him, but he would certainly be worth it. It is worth noting, if a Beckham trade were to happen (to the Patriots or any other team), it is likely to occur after June 1. According to Over the Cap, the Giants would take on $16 million in dead money and save only $5 million against the cap if Beckham is traded before June 1. After June 1, he can be traded at the cost of $4 million in dead money and $17 million in cap savings.

While Beckham’s talent is unquestioned, his ability to fit the Patriots culture does come with some questions. What if he isn’t getting the targets he thinks he deserves? Can he handle the amount of work Bill Belichick puts the team through on a daily basis? While he’s been all over Tom Brady’s social media account, players will say and do a lot of things, and in the end those things can be proven not to be true.

Beckham could convince a lot of people he wants to come to New England, but who knows exactly what would happen once he actually joined the team.

So from a contractual and value standpoint, Beckham makes some sense, especially if Gronkowski retires, but there’s more to the equation and the Patriots are always very cautious with who they bring in and how they might fit the culture.

Related: Hannable: Why it’s unlikely Patriots use franchise tag