Odell Beckham Jr., the one-hand-catching, headline-grabbing, record-setting, headache-inducing wide receiver who was one of the most physically gifted and mentally demanding players in franchise history, is a Giant no longer.
The team traded Beckham to the Browns on Tuesday night, a source confirmed, for a pair of draft picks this year – Cleveland’s first-round selection (No. 17) and a third-rounder (No. 95) – and safety Jabrill Peppers in a blockbuster deal that is sure to have repercussions on both franchises for years to come. The Browns, stocking up on talent this offseason and building on an already impressive roster, appear to be in win-now mode. The Giants? Just the opposite. They’re tearing down.
The trade will not become official until the start of the league year at 4 p.m. Wednesday, and once all players have received physicals.
NFL Network was first to report the deal.
Tuesday night was when the Giants turned the page from one era to the next and general manager Dave Gettleman made perhaps the biggest impact on the franchise that he has made or will make. The trade signals that the Giants are in a full-blown rebuild, more focused on winning down the road than in 2019. That also would seem to indicate that the 38-year-old quarterback they have stuck with to this point likely will not be around to see the finished product when it is ready to compete for the postseason and the Giants’ next championship.
Those milestones seemed very far away before Tuesday night. Now, after parting ways with Beckham as well as other productive players such as Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins (free agency) and Pro Bowl linebacker Olivier Vernon (in a trade, also with the Browns), they are almost unimaginable.
The Beckham fire came after months and months of smoke. Trade rumors swirled around Beckham for the better part of a year. Not even a five-year, $95 million contract extension he signed in August could extinguish the chatter about his fate. Beckham himself did little to dissuade such talk, hemming over direct questions about how much he liked being in New York and his relationship with Eli Manning in an interview on ESPN in September.
At the end of the 2018 season, and again late last month at the NFL Combine, Gettleman said he “did not sign Odell to trade him.” Some took that to mean he would not trade Beckham, but Gettleman made it clear that he would keep that door open if a suitor wanted to come through with an impressive enough offer. The Browns apparently did.
Gettleman called Beckham Tuesday night to deliver the news, a source said. The Giants will have $16 million in dead money on their salary cap for 2019 from the Beckham contract that was less than a year old. Among Beckham, Vernon and former Giants Damon Harrison, Eli Apple and Patrick Omameh, the Giants will be carrying $32.5 million in dead money this season. That’s almost one-fifth of their entire salary cap.
The trade unites Beckham with his former LSU teammate and close friend Jarvis Landry as well as brash quarterback Baker Mayfield (i.e., the anti-Eli Manning).
In five seasons with the Giants, Beckham caught 390 passes for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns. He burst on the scene in his first year when he had 91 catches and 12 touchdowns in just 14 games. His one-handed catch against the Cowboys in prime time sent his star soaring as it became an iconic play that caught the attention of everyone from Madison Avenue to LeBron James.
It also put a target on Beckham’s back, and the following year he was suspended one game for launching himself at Panthers cornerback Josh Norman in a game in which the two players were involved in several altercations.
From then on, Beckham’s career seemed to be Newtonian. For every superhuman play Beckham made on the field, there seemed to be an equal and opposite action off it. Even when he carried the Giants to the playoffs in 2016, he became a scapegoat for their postseason failure when he led the wide receivers on a party trip to Miami the week before the Giants played the Packers. He also dropped several passes in that game in Green Bay and punched a hole in the wall outside the visiting locker room at Lambeau Field in frustration after the loss.
Beckham missed most of the 2017 season with a fractured ankle. During his convalescence he appeared in an online video that went viral in which he and a French model appeared to be holding and using marijuana. He returned for the 2018 season and caught 77 passes for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns, but he missed the final four games with an injury to his quadriceps.
Peppers, whom the Giants will get in the trade, is a New Jersey native and played at Michigan. He has two years plus an option for a fifth year remaining on his contract. The Giants will use him to help replace Collins in the secondary. They also agreed to terms on a two-year deal with 34-year-old safety Antoine Bethea earlier Tuesday.
At the time, that Bethea deal seemed to be the biggest ripple the Giants would make while other teams were splashing around at the start of free agency. Instead, they cannonballed right into the middle of the pool with the Beckham trade.
The Giants’ haul for Odell Beckham:
Browns’ first-round pick (No. 17 overall)
Browns’ second pick in third round (No. 95 overall)
S Jabril Peppers
Odell Beckham’s career stats with the Giants:
Yards per game 92.8