Dave Gettleman called Odell Beckham Jr. directly on Tuesday night to tell him he had traded him to the Cleveland Browns.
Beckham, 26, knew a year ago that Gettleman was talking to teams about trading him off the Giants. So it’s not like the GM’s phone call was unexpected.
In fact, in recent days, Beckham had wondered amid all the rumors of his departure whether he’d wake up one day on a different team.
But Beckham still was stunned Tuesday, according to sources close to him, that it actually had happened.
He is no longer a Giant. OBJ no longer will wear blue. He will be immortalized in his Giant uniform, reaching back for that iconic one-handed catch as a rookie in 2014.
But he is now part of the Dawg Pound. He is now a Brown.
And truth be told, this is best for Beckham.
He escapes a Giant franchise drowning in its misplaced loyalty to Eli Manning, with eight wins in its last 33 games. And he joins a rising tide in Cleveland led by Baker Mayfield, OBJ’s best friend Jarvis Landry, mentor and wide receivers coach Adam Henry, and an excellent GM in John Dorsey.
It is the culmination of trade talks that began when Gettleman listened to overtures from the L.A. Rams last spring, which were first reported by the Daily News and kicked off a flurry of interest in OBJ from various suitors including the Niners and Patriots.
The conversations never truly subsided, even after Gettleman re-signed Beckham to a five-year, $90 million contract last August. And ultimately, Gettleman paid Beckham $21.5 million in for 12 games in 2018 ($20 million signing bonus, $1.459 million in base salary) to then trade him.
And now by dealing Beckham, Gettleman assumes a $16 million dead cap hit on the Giants’ books for 2019. This on top of failing to rebuild the offensive line sufficiently for his first season with a 5-11 record.
Rough goings for the GM, indeed.
The idea that this was going to take two first-round picks was simply the Giants negotiating.
Their original asking price last spring with the Rams was a first-round pick plus a second- or third-round pick. And generally that’s what they got on Tuesday, plus a player.
The Browns sent their No. 17 overall pick, a third-round pick (No. 95 overall) and third-year free safety Jabrill Peppers (of East Orange, N.J.) to the Giants.
The inclusion of Peppers was a big deal to the Giants, I’m told. As the trade was coming together, a message was conveyed on the Giants’ demands: “They want the safety,” a source said.
The Giants have two first-round picks in April’s draft now, too. So they have the capital to potentially get both a franchise quarterback and a premier pass rusher using the Nos. 6 and 17 overall picks.
On the other hand, the pressure is on Gettleman to pick great players there, as well, since he just traded one off his roster.
“Gettleman had better do well with those picks,” one NFL executive told the News. “It’s hard to replace that level of talent.”
To that end, what can’t get lost in the Giants’ hype of Saquon Barkley and the Manning lovefest, is how truly great a player Gettleman just traded.
What’s going to get lost in the Giants’ hype of Saquon Barkley and the Manning lovefest, however, is how truly great a player that Gettleman just traded off the Giants for good.
Beckham shattered Giants and NFL records left and right, amassing 91, 96 and 101 catches in his first three seasons, plus a ridiculous 35 touchdown catches in his first 43 NFL games.
Ironically, where it all started to fall apart was in the preseason in Aug. 2017 in Cleveland. Browns safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun undercut Beckham on an ugly hit after Manning overthrew a hospital ball to OBJ. And Beckham limped off the field in agony.
He said he was OK. And he tried to play through, but then he broke his ankle after catching a slant from Manning in Week 5 against the Chargers. OBJ missed the rest of the season. Manning’s poor play led to Ben McAdoo asking him to play just the first half in Oakland. Manning refused to play at all. Geno Smith started. Everybody got fired.
And then Beckham grinded, and worked, and pushed himself to rehab and start fresh with Gettleman and Shurmur and to help the organization win. Until he realized he’d come all the way back to play with a QB and a team that still wasn’t ready to win.
Throughout, Beckham’s behavior often did not jibe with what the organization expected of him: from his 2015 street fight on the field with Josh Norman that Tom Coughlin declined to break up; to the infamous Boat Trip; to last spring’s scandalous video from his vacation to France.