ORLANDO — The Giants’ plan to keep Odell Beckham Jr. for the 2018 season, along with their overarching wish for him to stick around even longer, has always had an asterisk. A caveat. The Giants will not trade him . . . unless.
Now we are starting to get a picture of what that “unless” entails.
ESPN reported on Wednesday as the NFL’s annual meetings came to a close that the Giants’ asking price for Beckham is “at least two first-round picks.” The Giants have insisted they are not shopping Beckham, but if that is indeed their pricetag, it’s pretty lofty.
It is essentially an unofficial franchise tag on Beckham a year before they might be able to employ one. Under the franchise tag rules, a player is allowed to negotiate with other teams but if that team signs him they must give up two first-round picks (plus the investment of a likely long-term contract). That has never happened in NFL history.
Co-owner John Mara said on Tuesday that he could not promise or guarantee that Beckham would be on the team in 2018, although that is his desire. Asked if it was just a matter of receiving an “overwhelming offer” for the superstar receiver, Mara said: “I think you could say that about anything.”
Two first-round picks as a starting point would certainly be overwhelming and it would rival some of the biggest trades in NFL history. Herschel Walker was the centerpiece of a 1989 deal between the Cowboys and Vikings that included 18 players and draft picks (including three first-round picks that went to the Cowboys over the span of four drafts). In 1988, the Rams traded Eric Dickerson to the Colts for three first- and three second-round picks in a three-team deal. Of more recent vintage, though, superstar trades have been for far less. In 2007, for example, the Raiders traded Randy Moss to the Patriots for a fourth-rounder.
There is no indication the Giants have received anything close to the type of offer for compensation in their conversations with any other team at these meetings that would alter their thinking. Muddying the dynamic of negotiations further is the idea that only a win-now team would part with such a haul to acquire Beckham. If the addition of the receiver were to work in that regard, those first-round picks would be diminished in value as they fell further in the selection order.
So a trade remains unlikely. Probably as unlikely as it was when the meetings began on Sunday with Mara saying Beckham is not “untouchable” via trade.
He is touchable. It’s just a very expensive touch.