Browns Have Makings of a 'Scary' Team, but That Won't Make Them the Next PatsMay 10, 2019
So, Odell Beckham Jr. thinks the Browns could follow in the Patriots' footsteps, huh?
"I plan on being [in Cleveland] for the next five years and trying to bring as many championships there as possible," Beckham told Cam Wolf of GQ, "turning [the Browns] into the new Patriots."
Nope. Won't happen.
During the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era, the Patriots have appeared in half of all Super Bowls played since 2001 and won a third of them. It's likely we will never see anything like the Patriots again in all of sports.
That doesn't mean, however, that Beckham is totally wrong. (And ignore Beckham's Instagram clarification. He said what he said. He likely meant what he said but only backtracked after being mocked.)
According to a handful of coaches with whom I've talked since Beckham's remarks, the Browns have the makings of the next NFL dynasty and are poised to be the closest thing the league has produced to the Patriots.
The Browns? Really? Do they drug test coaches in the NFL?
"This could be a scary team for a lotta years," one NFC head coach said.
It's hard to overstate how stacked that opposing teams believe the Browns are. Some assistant coaches rank them ahead of the Colts in terms of potential, and that's saying something about an Indianapolis team that has Andrew Luck at quarterback, some outstanding offensive weapons and a talented defense.
The Colts also have a gargantuan amount of salary-cap space at $58 million, according to Over the Cap. That's $17 million more than the next team, Houston.
But the Browns have more long-term potential than the Colts, say the coaches.
We know this all sounds like an episode of Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone, but coaches around the league are gushing about the Browns' collection of talent like they do with few other teams.
Again, let's be clear: The Browns are not going to be the Patriots. No one ever will. But they could be damn good.
"I think that New England is an anomaly," former Raiders executive Amy Trask wrote in an email to me. "In a league designed with the express intent and goal of fostering parity, New England has been a tremendous dynasty (since that snowy f--king night in Foxboro). OK, that memory and digression aside, what New England has done (nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl wins in 18 years) is breathtaking in football terms. It is extremely hard for me to imagine we will see that again."
Trask, who refuses to use the word "dynasty" regarding any franchise not named the Patriots, said the teams she thinks are "poised for ongoing success" are Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle and the L.A. Rams.
What gives the Browns a possible edge? There are four key reasons.
The quarterback. There are better quarterbacks than Baker Mayfield, such as the Colts' Luck or the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes. But we're talking about the entirety of the team, and Mayfield will be in the conversation because of the talent around him—Beckham, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt. And that's not to take away from his skills and work ethic.
The star. Every potential dynasty needs a huge star, and there are few players as physically talented as Beckham.
There are others, too, though, including Mayfield, Chubb, defensive lineman Myles Garrett and Landry. An important note: The team's critical stars are all in their 20s. In fact, Landry and Beckham are the oldest at 26.
True, some in the league question if the Browns can keep Beckham's flamboyant personality firing the right way. In many aspects, that question presents a false choice. Beckham's behavior with the Giants actually wasn't that egregious. Don't take my word for it. Ask his former receivers coach, Tyke Tolbert, who told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, "We all love Odell as a player in this organization and as a person."
The division. The AFC North is wide open. The Steelers have been hemorrhaging talent (losing Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell). The Ravens are good, and quarterback Lamar Jackson is talented, but we need to see more from him in the passing game. The Bengals are gonna Bengal. They are destined to be 7-9 as long as Andy Dalton is their quarterback.
The salary cap. The Browns have $33 million of available space. That's the fifth-most. In the past, this wouldn't have meant anything because the Browns drafted clowns and bozos. Now, they know what they are doing. This is a huge part of predicting a powerhouse.
It all seems impossible: the Browns as not just contenders, but also as a possible post-Patriots dynasty. It's the kind of thing dreamed up during a long night of ingesting mind-altering substances.
But this is no trip. The Browns could be the NFL's next big thing. Just not Patriots big.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.
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