Nate Burleson Believes Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr. Can Become the NFL’s Version of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp: ‘Alley-Oop to Odell for the Touchdown’

Article Highlights:

  • NFL analyst Nate Burleson believes the Baltimore Ravens should acquire Odell Beckham Jr.
  • The former Pro Bowl receiver won’t be the magic elixir for Lamar Jackson that Burleson thinks he’ll be
  • The best thing Baltimore can do for Jackson is staying far away from Beckham

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is seemingly always in need of a playmaking wide receiver. NFL analyst Nate Burleson is willing to play matchmaker.

As Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. prepares to depart the Factory of Sadness, he might not have a choice in where he goes next. Burleson, himself a former wideout, believes the former All-Pro will benefit most if he’s able to stick in the AFC North and move from Cleveland to Baltimore.

Nate Burleson believes Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr. could be the NFL’s version of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp

After three years of trying to make things work, the Odell Beckham Jr. era in Cleveland will officially end on Monday, Nov. 8. The Browns will place the eccentric receiver on waivers and, if he is not claimed, will say goodbye as he becomes a free agent.

Every contending team from the Green Bay Packers to the New England Patriots has been thrown around on social media and ESPN programming as potential fits for the veteran receiver. During a Nov. 7 appearance on NFL GameDay, Burleson said he believes the Ravens need to pursue Beckham.

In envisioning a Beckham-Jackson duo, the Washington-raised Burleson clearly visualized a repeat of the 1990s Seattle SuperSonics.

“Could you imagine Lamar Jackson leaving the pocket, ad-libbing, using his legs to extend the play, and then Odell Beckham taking one route [and] turning it into another and turning upfield? … It’ll be like Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton on the fast break. Alley-oop to Odell for the touchdown!”

Nate Burleson

Burleson also suggested the New Orleans Saints, who are without All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas for the rest of the season, pursue Beckham. The 2014 first-round pick grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and played three seasons at LSU.

The injury-plagued Ravens would be wise to stay far away from Beckham

Burleson’s vision of Jackson doing everything he can to keep a play alive before firing a touchdown to Beckham certainly sounds like a fun idea. Too bad it’s just a thought and not based on any type of reality.

There is no reason at this point to believe Beckham will come anywhere close to resembling the electric talent he was with the New York Giants. He just turned 29 years old and, outside of a dominant outing against the Dallas Cowboys last year, really was a non-factor in Cleveland.

Part of the blame falls on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield as he’s the one throwing the ball. But if Mayfield, a traditional game-manager quarterback, isn’t throwing to Beckham, what makes one think that Jackson — a prolific dual-threat superstar — is going to force those passes?

The Ravens are at the point where anything short of a Super Bowl appearance will understandably be considered a disappointing season. Three years ago, we could reasonably believe that Beckham could contribute to that goal. Two years ago, there’d still be a degree of optimism.

But in 2021, the Ravens aren’t that desperate for a player living off old glory, are they? The organization signed the likes of Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell earlier this year because they urgently needed running back depth. There are other players out there who better fit the Ravens’ current approach and needs than Beckham.

Payton and Kemp aren’t exactly the NBA duo that an NFL team would want to replicate


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Burleson has referenced Kemp and Payton when discussing quarterback-receiver duos before. With respect to his love of the Sonics, that’s not exactly the best partnership to replicate.

Although Kemp and Payton were among the Western Conference’s top players in the 1990s, the Sonics never won a title. Yes, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ruled the NBA during that time, but Seattle went one-and-done during the 1993-94 NBA Playoffs when His Airness was off striking out in the minor leagues.

If you’re going to suggest Beckham and Jackson try to follow an NBA duo, might we recommend mimicking Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry? There’s always LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (or Chris Bosh). How about James Harden and Kevin Durant? Wait, they haven’t won anything yet. Don’t use them.

Then again, the chances are that Burleson’s proposed partnership will turn out more like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Too soon?

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