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Guilbeau: Saints Should Go After Odell Beckham Jr. — Baggage And All

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NEW ORLEANS — Super Tuesday is coming. Former Cleveland wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be available at 3 p.m. central time that day after parting with the Cleveland Browns last week.

Yes, he is a diva. But so was Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who declared himself done for the year last week as he continues to try to rehabilitate what is apparently the worst ankle injury in ankle history. Tight end Jeremy Shockey was a diva, and he was key in the Saints getting to Super Bowl XLIV that it won in the 2009 season.

How bad could Beckham be? Has he been shifty about his vaccination status?

Beckham may not be as good a receiver as Thomas, but he can be spectacular. And the Saints, who fell to 5-3 on Sunday with a heart-ripping, 27-25 loss to average Atlanta, need a receiver bad. Just a good receiver would be an improvement, but they need more than that with the upcoming schedule.

The Saints are at Tennessee (6-2) at noon Sunday on CBS. After a trip to 3-6 Philadelphia, it will be another contender in Buffalo (5-3) on Thanksgiving night, then 6-2 Dallas on Dec. 2 and a trip to 6-2 Tampa Bay on Dec. 19.

Stickum would help, but that’s illegal.

Kenny Stills did a nice job on an 8-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Trevor Siemian to put New Orleans up 25-24 with 1:01 to go, but he has consistently dropped passes this season as has his teammates. Deonte Harris looked good Sunday with six catches for 52 yards. Tre’Quan Smith has had his moments — good and bad.

There is clearly no go-to receiver on this team. Former quarterback Drew Brees won consistently by making average receivers look good and above average receivers look very good. He rarely had great receivers, but Siemian is no Brees. He is solid and a better quarterback than Taysom Hill, but he needs all the help he can get.

Saints coach Sean Payton and company need to get Beckham.

Word is Beckham wants to go to a playoff team and be in a winning environment. That is the Saints, period. New Orleans has been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL with four straight NFC South titles, and it has reached the playoffs four straight times and eight times since 2009.

Beckham, who grew up in New Orleans and played at Newman High – aka the Manning Academy – and was a phenomenal receiver at LSU while not being nearly as much of a diva there, has never been on a team with the winning culture anything like the Saints with Payton.

Beckham has not been on a consistently winning team since he played for LSU from 2011-13. In his first two seasons with the New York Giants, they were 6-10. There was an 11-5 season in 2016, but a wild-card playoff loss. And back to 3-13 and 5-11 in 2017 and ’18. As a Brown in 2019, Cleveland was 6-10. The Browns won a playoff game last year after an 11-5 season, but Beckham missed most of that year injured.

This is an extremely gifted receiver known for Gumby-like catches who is a three-time Pro Bowl player and was the NFL rookie of the year in 2014. Payton and Siemian can work with that.

A player can’t be a cancer if the rest of the cells on the team know how things are supposed to be. Beckham wants to be viewed as the greatest. He pouted at times when LSU threw too much to fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry and not enough to him.

There will not be that problem with the Saints. He will arrive as the guy – the diva. If he knows that coming in and is treated like royalty, maybe he will not be as much of a royal pain in the butt.

“They need me,” maybe Beckham will say to himself.

“My city needs me,” maybe Beckham will say to himself.

He won’t be able to go to any LSU games after that life-size game of Monopoly he played with the Tigers after their national championship victory over Clemson in the Superdome two years ago. The school has cut off contact with him because of his involvement in a current NCAA investigation. He will need to stay in town anyway.

“This Siemian guy needs me,” maybe Beckham will say to himself.

He will be home. He will have a great offensive coach in Payton – the best he has ever had in that department by football fields.

It’s never too late to grow up, Odell. Maybe you can be the king of a Mardi Gras parade.

Come home, Odell.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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