Cleveland Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta said Thursday that despite wholesale changes to the coaching staff and front office this offseason, the team is not looking to break up its young core of players.
That includes star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who is a constant subject of trade rumors.
“It’s frustrating a little bit,” DePodesta said during a conference call with reporters, regarding persistent speculation about an OBJ trade. “I think it’s pretty clear we’re trying to build at this point. We’re really building around a core of players that we think have a chance to be a championship-caliber core, and the idea that we would take away from that core at this moment just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and really [is] not something we’re exploring at all.”
DePodesta is one of the few holdovers from the previous regime in Cleveland. Off a disappointing 6-10 record last season, the Browns fired head coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey, who traded for Beckham from the New York Giants last March.
Beckham played through a hip and groin injury last season on the way to finishing with 74 catches for 1,035 yards and just four touchdowns. Those were career lows, excluding his injury-shortened season with the Giants in 2017. Beckham underwent surgery in January to repair the injury.
DePodesta, who led Cleveland’s search committee that brought in first-time head coach Kevin Stefanski and first-time general manager Andrew Berry, said that even after the tumultuous 2019 season, the Browns have no plans to break up their core, which includes Beckham, Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb and wide receiver Jarvis Landry, defensive end Myles Garrett, cornerback Denzel Ward and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The Browns will be looking to add to that core in next week’s NFL draft; they have the 10th overall pick. Though DePodesta didn’t rule out the possibility of Cleveland trading down, the Browns are in prime position to address a glaring need at left tackle in a draft loaded with potential cornerstones at the position, headlined by Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills and Mekhi Becton.
“We feel good about what we might be able to acquire right at 10,” DePodesta said. “We think there will be a very good player for us at 10 — a very good player.”