Dave Gettleman’s lasting legacy with the Giants likely will be as the man who traded away Odell Beckham Jr.
Whether that turns out to be one of the worst moves in franchise history or a key to bringing the team back to prominence remains to be seen. But Monday, about a week after the deal with the Browns came together in a 10-hour window, the general manager explained why he did it.
“Another team made an offer we could not refuse,” he said.
That offer wound up being the Browns’ first-round pick (17th overall), their third-round pick (95th overall) and safety Jabrill Peppers. The teams’ earlier deal of linebacker Olivier Vernon for guard Kevin Zeitler was folded into the new megadeal. Gettleman said it was “too much to pass up. This was a decision we did not enter into lightly.”
Gettleman said there were conversations with a few teams throughout this offseason about Beckham. The 49ers, he said, expressed interest but never reached the “litmus test” of the two first-round picks the Giants would have received had they used a franchise tag on Beckham for 2019 (he considers Peppers a first-round talent).
Gettleman said the only team he reached out to about Beckham was the Bills, and that was mostly to chide his friend Brandon Beane about his attempt to trade for Antonio Brown.
Last Tuesday morning, Gettleman said, Browns general manager John Dorsey, a longtime friend, called to start serious discussions about Beckham. By that evening, the star receiver was on his way to Cleveland.
Gettleman insisted it was a “football decision” to move Beckham, noting the holes that need filling and the ability to fill several with one move. He disputed that he was traded because of the off-the-field antics that riled team management, but he acknowledged they were there.
“There is a lot of stuff that factors in,” he said, “but in order for us to move Odell, the other team was gonna have to knock it out of the park.”
So what happened to his tenet that “you don’t quit on talent” and his statement that he did not sign Beckham to trade him? He said he did not give up on him, instead using his over-the-moon talent as an asset to procure the player-picks package.
“Quitting on talent is when you cut a player or get marginal value in return,” he said. “And we all know this did not happen here.’’
He noted that the extension he gave Beckham last summer wound up making him more appealing to other teams because they would have him under contract for five more seasons.
The trade — and other moves this offseason that have brought scrutiny, such as letting Landon Collins walk away in free agency and signing veterans such as Antoine Bethea and Golden Tate — was, he said, part of his plan to build for the future while trying to win now.
“The object of this is to win as many games as possible every year, so we’re building,” he said. “I don’t understand why that’s a question. Really and truly, you can win while you’re building. They’re not separate pieces.”
Gettleman did not go into detail on that blueprint — “It’s not my responsibility to tell you guys what I’m doing,” he told reporters — and asked for patience from the fan base.
“Trust me, we got a plan,” he said. “Everybody wants answers now. We live in an instant gratification society. Everybody wants answers now. Over time, you’ll see it. You have to trust it.”
After one playoff appearance in six seasons and a losing record in four of the past five, that trust is a tough ask for fans. Especially those who see their favorite players leaving and question the logic behind sticking with 38-year-old Eli Manning (whose perceived demise, Gettleman said, is “a crock”).
“You’re not going to be able to give a Roman Colosseum thumbs up or thumbs down on this trade for a little bit,” Gettleman said. “We have to see how Jabrill develops, and we’ve got to see who this [first-round pick] is, who this [third-round pick] is. And you guys will follow Odell’s career and we’ll go from there. Then in two or three years, you can have your opinions.
“Just like you have them now.”