Everyone calls it The Odell Beckham Jr. Trade.
As they should. He was the headliner in the blockbuster deal between the Giants and the Browns in March that continues to rattle the NFL with shock waves and sound bites. There were other pieces in the swap, of course, including active players and draft picks, but Beckham was the brightest star – and certainly has been the loudest piece – in the exchange.
But there is one player at Giants training camp this summer who would like to alter the perceptions of that deal, not to mention how it is referred to. A certain safety who, the Giants said at the time, was the key piece in completing the agreement with the Browns. A third-year pro who thinks he may have the potential to do what seems like the impossible at this point and overshadow Beckham.
So what will it take for people to stop referring to that franchise-shaking event as The Odell Trade and start calling it The Jabrill Peppers Trade?
“I just have to make plays, man,” the safety told Newsday on Thursday, just prior to his first training camp practice with his new team. “I have to play at an elite level and help this organization win by having a huge impact on the games.”
If he does that, Peppers believes, he can alter the narrative around a trade that has to this point been dominated by one voice and one personality. He wants March 13, 2019, to not be remembered in these parts for what the Giants gave up, but for what they got back.
It’s understandable why Peppers gets far less attention than Beckham. Their resumes and accomplishments are skewed in favor of the wide receiver. But their personalities differ, too. Consider the news cycle earlier this week, when Beckham complained to a national magazine about being “disrespected” by the Giants and spilled his thoughts about considering retirement and praying for an escape from the organization.
Peppers’ take on his former team?
“I’m thankful for my time in Cleveland,” he said. “I learned a lot of lessons there, built a lot of character and formed a lot of great relationships. I wish nothing but the best for that organization. I think we both just have to move on.”
Peppers even is modest enough to recognize why Beckham headlines the roster move that brought him here . . . up to this point.
“At the end of the day, man, I didn’t have an elite year, so I understand it,” he said. “I’m not upset. I feel like if you need things like that to get you riled up and going, then you’re not where you need to be mentally anyway. It definitely adds fuel to the fire, but that fire was already lit. I’m coming here humble, head high, ready to work, and do whatever I can to make my name.”
That the Giants considered him the key piece they got in return for Beckham is flattering.
“That definitely meant a lot to me,” he said. “You want to be in a place where you are wanted and guys believe in you. That meant a lot.”
But is it enough?
No. Not until he proves their gamble right.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Peppers said of his potential. “I haven’t even put forth a quarter of what I can, a quarter of my ability. I think this has to be a very important training camp for me, honing in on my abilities, working on my craft and my weaknesses. I have to go out there and have a great year.”
To hold up his end of the deal . . . which was one of the biggest deals in Giants history.