This weekend, Beckham will return to an NFL field, this time in Baltimore as a member of the Ravens. It's like the first day of school all over again for the 30-year-old.
"The whole thing feels like a reset for me," Beckham said on Wednesday ahead of Sunday's matchup with the Texans. "There's been a lot of like déjà vu moments of little things happened. It just kind of feels reminiscent of my rookie year in a sense -- just the feeling of the excitement that I have to play football and just a new opportunity, a new life. So I don't know what to expect, but I'm excited."
The last few years have been relatively rough on Beckham. He finished his underwhelming tenure in Cleveland by forcing the Browns to release him during the 2021 season, then signed with the Rams, hopping onto a train that was rolling toward a Super Bowl. He caught the first touchdown pass of that Super Bowl, then was forced to watch the second half from the sideline after tearing his ACL.
The season that followed included plenty of flirtation with interested teams, but none were willing to take a risk on a playmaker who was less than a year removed from the second significant knee injury of his career. With Beckham's star starting to fade, Baltimore scooped him up in free agency in April, ending a prolonged pursuit of a former superstar to the tune of one year and as much as $18 million.
Such a price tag comes with expectations, even if Beckham hasn't been able to produce in the last year. Beckham isn't spending a second worrying about such expectations; he's just happy to be on a football field again.
"I feel good," he said. "It's been a lot of hard work to get to this point. I know who I am. It's just time to let your hair down and have fun. I'm not giving out any numbers or expectations. I just feel good and ready to play football again."
Baltimore is hoping he can return to form and become a key contributor in an offense many expect to look vastly different from the run-first attack the Ravens adopted in the first few years of Lamar Jackson's career. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken has experience working with Beckham from their season spent together in Cleveland in 2019, but 2019 was a long time ago, especially by NFL standards.
It won't be about turning the clock back for Beckham. 2023 will be about proving he can still be a valuable part of an NFL offense, perhaps even a playmaker worth fearing.
"He's passionate about the game," Jackson said on Wednesday, "and he just can't wait to show people in the world what he's still able to do."