After decades of despair and misfortune, the Cleveland Browns finally appear to be on the right track.
They were a year late with their arrival, as many fans thought the Browns would burst on to the scene in 2019.
Nevertheless, they found a formula that worked for them under head coach Kevin Stefanski, and advanced to the AFC Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Although they ultimately fell to the AFC champions, Cleveland was in the game pretty much most of the way.
It was the farthest the franchise had advanced since 1994.
For the better part of 20 years, the Browns brought players in without successfully developing, or intelligently anticipating how they might fit into the grand scheme of things.
Under Stefanski, it seems like a good bet that Cleveland will emphasize ball control and the ground game, while generating a bothersome pass rush on the defensive end.
Now that they have an identity, it’s a little easier to envision which players the Browns truly value moving forward.
Let’s take a look at 2 players currently on the roster who likely won’t be on the team when the season starts.
2. David Njoku
— Chief David Njoku (@David_Njoku80) May 8, 2021
There have been rumblings for the better part of a year that former first round draft pick David Njoku might not be with the Browns for too much longer.
His talent isn’t really in question, as the former University of Miami star still figures to have an enticing pass catching profile for years to come.
But he hasn’t done enough to grab the starting tight end job in his four years, and he’s entering the last year of his contract.
While there’s a possibility he could be cut before the season, there’s a greater likelihood that Njoku will be shopped around the league.
Given his pedigree, the chances that the Browns can obtain a draft pick for Njoku would seem promising.
Look for a transaction involving the tight end in the next few months.
1. Odell Beckham, Jr.
As quick as we alll forgot… is as quick as I’ll remind ya…. GodSpeeeed pic.twitter.com/NSF5KDzbyr
— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) February 13, 2021
Due around $15 million for each of the next three seasons, Odell Beckham, Jr. is going to be one of the most interesting players to watch from a rumor mill point of view this summer.
After leaving the Giants, it seemed like that price point might be a bargain for the supremely talented wide receiver.
At this point in time though, as remarkable as it is, that salary seems a little exorbitant.
Coming off of a serious knee injury, there will be questions about whether Beckham will continue to have the same level of explosion.
In a season where Beckham was only able to play 7 games, the Browns finished 11-5, lending credence to the notion that his presence really wasn’t critical to their success.
The most extreme interpretation of this reality might also lead some in the direction that his absence was actually beneficial to the Browns.
After reportedly telling opposing players in December 2019 that he wanted to leave Cleveland, Beckham might actually get his wish in the next few months.NEXT: Browns Have Restructured Key Defender's Contract