Let there be no doubt about the state of the Giants right now: With Tuesday night’s shocking trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, they are in complete tear-down mode. When they might emerge from the depths of this deconstruction is anyone’s guess.
General manager Dave Gettleman, who had repeatedly said in recent weeks he did not sign Beckham last year to trade him, did just that in one of the most jaw-dropping moves in the nearly 100-year history of the franchise. Beckham was one of the only players worth watching on a team that showed only modest improvement in last year’s 5-11 season, and now he will be catching passes from Baker Mayfield on a Browns team that has suddenly transformed itself into a contender after years in the abyss.
What’s left of the Giants? A 38-year-old quarterback on his last legs, a terrific second-year running back who will likely spend the rest of his rookie contract wasted on a team with no obvious direction, a shell of a defense that just let Landon Collins walk and traded for underachieving safety Jabrill Peppers and a coach who will have even less to work with than last year’s chronically incomplete team.
This has the makings of a disaster, plain and simple. The current generation of Giants fans may experience the kind of misery as those who suffered through the late 1960s and 1970s, an era that ended only after general manager George Young lifted it from the depths of failure beginning in 1979. It was Young who brought stability to the franchise with a series of moves that included the drafting of Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Joe Morris and Leonard Marshall and the hiring of coaches Ray Perkins and then Bill Parcells.
There was a sensible, methodical approach to what Young did to rebuild the franchise, and two Super Bowl championships would follow. It was Young who helped embattled team president and co-owner Wellington Mara restore his reputation and preside over a championship franchise after years of failure.
Mara’s oldest son, John, hired Gettleman in December 2017 with the hopes of a similar blueprint to recast the team’s reputation. But with a mish-mash of roster moves that have lacked clear direction, Gettleman is overseeing a team that appears in complete disarray.
Beckham is Exhibit A.
Gettleman never completely tamped down trade rumors that swirled last year about Beckham, who was in the late stages of his rookie contract. But Gettleman invested heavily in Beckham on a five-year extension worth $95 million -- he made more than $21 million last season -- a deal that seemed to cement the receiver’s future with the Giants. And now, a year into the deal, it’s over in New York, and Beckham will leave behind a whopping $16 million in “dead money” on the salary cap this year.
Is that any way to run an operation?
It is most certainly not.
Gettleman received the Browns’ first-round pick next month – 17th overall – a third-round pick (No. 95 overall) and Peppers, who will serve as Collins’ replacement. That’s a virtual steal for the Browns for a player who should have commanded two first-round picks. The Browns had little use for Peppers, a former first-round pick, while they get in return a playmaker who will now line up alongside former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry and give the Browns one of the best receiving threats in the NFL.
Eli Manning is now left with an offense that is measurably worse off than last year, which makes you wonder why – or even if – he will be around for the upcoming season. A rebuilding roster is no place for an immobile quarterback going into his 16th season, and the Giants simply must figure out a better plan at quarterback. That will either involve drafting a player like Dwayne Haskins – they now have draft capital to move up from sixth overall if need be – or it could involve trading for Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen in the event Arizona drafts Kyler Murray.
But Gettleman’s patchwork roster building so far leaves little confidence that he will come up with a suitable alternative at the team’s most important position.
After all, it’s been only two weeks since Gettleman smugly addressed rumors of a Beckham trade by telling reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him.” After going against those very words on Tuesday night, what makes you believe he’ll have the right answers moving forward?