Would it be a complete NFL season if the Patriots weren’t rumored to have an interest in Odell Beckham Jr. once again?
Since the days of Beckham wanting out of New York and expressing his desire to play alongside Tom Brady, the Patriots and the receiver have allegedly touted mutual interest in one another. As a current free agent after reportedly declining the Rams’ contract offer, Beckham is scouting teams around the league to join when he should be cleared to play again next month.
Rumors have circulated attempting to determine where he will land once he recovers from a torn ACL. And of course, the Patriots have been thrown into the conversation, as they have for the last handful of years. At this point, it’s not hard to believe as Beckham has expressed interest in joining New England in the past and even revealed he was “very, very, very” close to choosing the team after his release from the Browns.
"“And for a guy, a coach like Bill Belichick, who I’ve admired for years and I’ve seen, and, just, always was like, ‘Man, someday I’m gonna play for Bill Belichick.’ … For him to call me; to be able to just sit down on the phone and talk football — I mean, it’s like, what more could you ask for? So, I was very close (to joining Patriots). That’s one of the teams that was in there. But I just, I felt like (Los Angeles) was home, that this was right.”"
Although he was speaking about a few years ago, and currently most reports indicate that Beckham will choose a Super Bowl contender, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN recently stated that the Patriots remain a contender to land the receiver, and even showed significant interest in signing him this offseason.
"“New England is worth watching because I’m told it heavily evaluated Beckham’s market early in free agency in March. Like most teams, it knew Beckham’s recovery would take a while, so talks never went anywhere.”"
Fowler went on to explain why New England would be a fit for Beckham and the chances of the team making his acquisition work.
"“After much preseason debate about the direction of the Patriots’ offense under coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, it has averaged 5.8 yards per play this season, which ranks 10th in the league — and that’s with backup quarterbacks the past two games. Plus, the defense has found its footing. Wideout DeVante Parker, acquired in the offseason as a deep-threat option, has eight catches on the season. Maybe coach Bill Belichick believes he’s a player away and will pay the premium required to outbid others for Beckham. New England has $4.4 million in cap space, which should be enough to make something work.”"
This all sounds good and dandy, especially to those wanting to see OBJ in a Patriots uniform because the possibility of it actually happening is exciting enough. But it’s important to acknowledge that Belichick’s interest occurred before the 2022 draft, in which he selected Tyquan Thornton in the second round, and before the trade for DeVante Parker.
As the team currently stands, the Patriots have six wide receivers on the 53-man roster. Thornton just returned from injury last week and the offense is still a bit murky, to say the least. If circumstances were different, there may be more validity to New England’s interest and chances. But looking at their current roster, adding another receiver doesn’t appear likely.
Could it still happen? Sure. Given the issues the Patriots’ offense is having, OBJ could be the boost the team needs. Should we believe that he would choose a current 2-3 team struggling to get a handle on their offense, in a division that will likely be won by the Buffalo Bills? Probably not.
If chasing rings is where his head and heart are at, Beckham will sign elsewhere. If the idea of working with the greatest of all coaches trumps everything else, then the Patriots have a good chance of making it happen.
But looking at it realistically, the player and the team have been linked for a few years and never made anything happen. What are the chances of that changing now?