The Giants aren’t trading Odell Beckham Jr. Unless they get two-first round picks. But they don’t want to deal him. At least not under certain conditions.
In typical New York fashion, the rumor mill took off after reports the Giants would consider dealing their best player, a move they’ve denied publicly while leaking info privately. Now, reportedly the Giants will ask for two first-round picks of OBJ, a potentially historic haul for a receiver and one they’re not likely to get for their tempestuous superstar.
That said, the Browns should take a calculated risk here and attempt to deal for Beckham. First, they have his good friend a former LSU teammate now in the fold after trading for Jarvis Landry. Their former receivers coach in Baton Rouge, Adam Henry, now holds the same job with the Browns.
We know Cleveland isn’t New York, but LeBron James also proves it’s not the sunken place either. An incandescent talent and persona like Beckham can still thrive as both a player and a brand there, plus the comfort of the known with Landry and Henry mean the Browns mitigate the risk of their relationship with Beckham going South.
Offer the fourth and 33rd overall picks for Beckham. It’s not two firsts, but it’s close enough with a top-five in there to boot. Browns fans cling to these picks like cling to Bernie Kosar nostalgia, but there’s no OBJ in this draft, no virtuoso talent at a premium position. The closest thing to Beckham is Saquon Barkley and we’ve never seen him take a snap in the NFL.
Even a best-case scenario for Barkley is “OBJ minus the drama” and there’s basically a 1% chance of that happening. If Landry and Henry’s presence, along with a less highly-scrutinizing media environment can keep Beckham focused on the field, there’s a 99% chance they get an All-Pro caliber player.
There’s far less risk in Beckham, still just 25, particularly after accounting for the average useful lifespan of an NFL running back.
Now Cleveland would have Beckham, Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku in the passing game. And don’t @ me Coleman fans. He’s not a reason to not trade for one of the 5 most dynamic and explosive players in the league. We don’t even know if he’s half-good yet much less OBJ good.
The Browns still get to take Sam Darnold first overall and have the 35th pick from the Deshaun Watson trade which basically makes this a net neutral in terms of draft capital. The fourth pick already came from Houston and there’s no material difference really between 33 and 35, which means they essentially could their picks from the Watson deal to trade for Odell Beckham without affecting their own draft picks. This is exactly why teams should be trading down to acquire assets. Either use them to stack picks, which the Browns have, or to deal with stars, which the Browns now can.
If you’re the Giants, why do you make this deal? New York basically answered the question of ‘Would you trade Beckham?’ by saying ‘No’ then leaking their intended asking price. They’re open to dealing him. The “why” isn’t important. They’re willing to deal him for the right price. Is this the right price?
Getting No. 4 would give them two top-five picks, the chance to get a quarterback of the future plus a blue chip player for this season, likely Eli Manning’s last. Would they rather make one last ride with Beckham? Probably. But given the apparent financial demands and seemingly strained relationship, an offer like this would be tantalizing.
Let’s say Darnold goes No. 1. The Giants could take Josh Rosen—for my money the best quarterback in the draft—then draft Bradley Chubb or Barkley at No. 4. At 33, a player like D.J. Moore or Courtland Sutton brings another weapon for the offense and suddenly Manning has some toys to play with for 2018, and foundation for Rosen to build with moving forward.
Yes, the point of acquiring draft picks is to get a 30 percent chance at a player 80 percent as good as Beckham, making this a tough pill to swallow. But a top-five pick gives the Giants that chance. I’m not in love with Chubb, but drafting Barkley would be an ideal move for the Giants who desperately need a running game and Barkley brings one of the most dynamic skill sets we’ve seen at the running back position in a long time.
Both teams win in this scenario, short-term and long-term. The Browns get a true No. 1 receiver they can know won’t be out of the league in the next six months (Gordon remains on very thin ice and is at the very least a huge question mark) and still have the chance to draft a quarterback of the future and make a high second selection because of their extra picks.
The Giants now can take their quarterback of the future, a move they may have been more reticent to make with Beckham in the fold and the team wanting to go for it this year. Trading him for 4/33 sets them up to add pieces to aid in that run in ’18, while still bridging the cap to a post-Manning world in New York.
Rosen, or Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield or whomever, would get a year to sit and learn Pat Schurmur’s offense while also giving him a year before having to answer to the hounding New York media.
There’s a case to be made that if keeping Beckham hurts their ability to rebuild—and a team with a healthy Manning and OBJ will likely be solid one, forgoing a chance next year to take a QB with a high pick—then the Giants can’t bet on the 2018 at the expense of their future.
This is a deal that works for both teams … which is exactly why it likely won’t happen.