Over the past week, dozens of NFL players have sent in their paperwork opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19. We are still waiting on that first big name to come through the wire, however, and we thought we almost had it when an NFL star made some pretty surprising statements. During an interview with WSJ. Magazine, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said that he thinks the 2020 NFL season should be canceled and that he "wouldn't mind not having it."
Despite these strong comments from Beckham, Browns general manager Andrew Berry came to his receiver's defense the following day -- saying that Beckham is still committed to playing this season and that he's been engaged and focused with everything Cleveland has done this offseason.
"Having a player of Odell's stature on the roster, obviously, he generates a lot of attention," Berry said. "Odell is very mindful that he has to be conscientious with his words. That being said, we have had plenty of dialogue and conversation with Odell, not only just through the summer but certainly as he has returned to Cleveland, and that has been a positive thing. We feel really good about everything that the league and the [NFL]PA have agreed upon and everything that we have done in Cleveland. I would say in terms of Odell, he has returned and really been focused on working hard. He has been very engaged in everything that we have done in the classroom. He is really focused on having a great year."
Berry's comments do seem to jive with what Beckham has said for the majority of the offseason, as back in May he predicted he would have one of his best seasons yet in 2020. Still, the comment Beckham made about not minding football being canceled is sure to raise some eyebrows.
Beckham was seen as someone who would take Cleveland's offense to the next level in 2019, but the Browns went 6-10 while he struggled to establish a rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield. In 2019, he caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns, which are the lowest numbers he's posted when playing a full 16-game season. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported that sources with several different teams believe it's only a matter of time before Beckham is traded from the Browns, but Berry has been adamant that the three-time Pro Bowl wideout is part of their long-term plans.
Beckham clearly isn't the only player concerned about the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, about 50 players have opted out of playing this season, which is apparently a much higher number than the NFL thought it would see. Players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season. To keep up with who will pass on playing this year, check out CBS Sports' opt-out tracker here.