The Cleveland Browns have been in the headlines a lot recently.
What started as a bizarre posting by his father, Odell Beckham Sr., consisting of an 11 minute video showing when his son was not targeted ended up with the Browns negotiating a settlement with Odell Beckham Jr. and sending him on his way.
The Browns have not looked back since.
They had a huge Week 9 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
In addition, the savings negotiated from Beckham’s settlement may have helped fund contract extensions for both of the Browns’ guards.
Sources: The #Browns have agreed to terms with guard Joel Bitonio on a contract extension, locking up their second big-time guard in two days. First Wyatt Teller, now Bitonio.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2021
Here are two players who will step up now that OBJ is gone.
2. David Njoku
Tight end David Njoku, in 2020, was a little bit like Beckham.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to be with the Browns.
This seemed to be the result of the Browns signing free agent tight end Austin Hooper.
He changed agents, demanded a trade, and then walked all of it back, but it was still unclear where his head was.
In 2021, we saw a different Njoku.
The Browns exercised his fifth-year option; he fired the agent and went back to his original one.
He participated in offseason team events and was definitely all in.
The Browns never wavered on wanting Njoku on this team; he is very talented.
He will step up in a big way and already has.
Njoku has 341 yards receiving and two touchdowns, one happened in the Week 9 Bengals game after Beckham’s exit.
David Njoku got 🆙 pic.twitter.com/seKkDT5em0
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 7, 2021
In the entire 2020 season, he had two touchdowns and 213 yards receiving.
His average yards per reception is currently at a career high of 16.2.
1. Donovan Peoples-Jones
Donovan Peoples-Jones, or DPJ, is in his second season.
There has been no indication of a sophomore slump.
He came into training camp and impressed everyone with his offseason work and improvements.
Peoples-Jones made some dazzling catches in his rookie season while also playing special teams.
His star is rising, and it is very likely that he could be WR1 in 2022.
To get there, he needs to step into the limelight and get more targets.
He has only 15 on the season, but he caught 13 of them.
DPJ was briefly sidelined by a hamstring injury but is back and ready to roll.
His first game back coincidentally was the first game officially without OBJ.
He caught a 60-yard touchdown pass.
— Donovan Peoples-Jones (@dpeoplesjones) November 9, 2021
Peoples-Jones appears to be the real deal, and the Browns got the Michigan alum in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Former Ohio State and current Jacksonville Jaguar head coach Urban Meyer spoke last year about how DPJ should have been a top ten pick.
Everyone else’s loss is the Browns’ gain.
— Inside the NFL (@insidetheNFL) November 9, 2021
Though he is not mentioned here, it goes without saying that Baker Mayfield will also step up.
He already did in the Cincinnati game.
Mayfield needs to continue to do so to quell any remaining naysayers who believe that OBJ’s dad’s video is a knock on Mayfield’s talent.