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‘I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues’: Beckham lands with Browns following ‘Giant’ trade

Brook Ward | Flickr

On Feb. 27, New York Giants general manager David Gettleman told the media during the NFL Combine, “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him. That’s all I need to say about that.”

Less than two weeks later, Odell Beckham Jr. was traded away to the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick, a third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers.

It’s impossible to know what changed so drastically over the course of those 13 days, but Gettleman obviously altered course pretty quickly.

Perhaps he always had the intention of trading away the team’s best player and lied to the media to tamper down speculation.

Regardless, the move has been made, and it would appear that Big Blue isn’t much better off at all for having done so.

It’s clear now more than ever that the Giants are in rebuild mode. They had already rid themselves of their two best players on defense earlier this month by purging safety Landon Collins and defensive end Olivier Vernon.

Now the franchise has voluntarily decided to fork over one of the biggest stars in all of sports for a couple of draft picks and a safety who isn’t nearly as talented as the one they just released.

The trade makes little to no sense on paper, especially when considering that the Giants paid Beckham a $20 million signing bonus not too long ago and will have to pay the receiver $16 million in dead money this year to watch him catch touchdowns for the Browns.

By trying to propel their rebuild forward, they may have just set it back several more years. Choosing to give away the face of the franchise and a presumed future Hall of Famer is a move that most people wouldn’t even attempt in Madden, let alone in real life.

The team may have gotten back draft picks, but even getting those pales in comparison to what they should have received. To put things in perspective, the Jets received two first-round draft picks for Keyshawn Johnson in 2000.

Few would argue that Johnson is better than Beckham, meaning that the Giants were absolutely fleeced by the Browns. They should have gotten much more for Beckham than the Jets received for Johnson, not much less.

The outrage fans are expressing in the wake of this trade has been a long time coming. This is an organization that thought it could win at the start of last season.

That’s why they signed Nate Solder to a lucrative deal, drafted Saquon Barkley instead of a quarterback and gave Beckham a huge extension.

Instead, they only won five games and are now giving up on all of their talented players except Barkley, who surely can’t lead this team to a winning record by himself.

The indecision to decide what they want to be has cost the Giants time and again. Their refusal to commit to rebuilding has thus set back their inevitable rebuild several years.

This is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that they refused to trade away star safety Collins last year and then basically let him walk in free agency a couple of weeks ago without getting anything in return.

Just as fans were beginning to get over that egregious decision, they now have to cope with what might ultimately be an even worse one: trading away the face of the franchise.

There is still a chance that this deal works out for New York, if they manage to hit home runs on the two picks they acquired and thus expedite their rebuild by several years.

More likely, they will try to trade their plethora of picks to move up in the draft and nab the quarterback of the future. A successor to Eli Manning is badly needed and has been for several years now. If the Giants can draft an elite QB this year who propels them to several Super Bowl titles, then the trade will have been worth it.

Then again, those are all huge “ifs.” The draft is a complete crapshoot.

The Giants could get the next John Elway or could land the next JaMarcus Russell. Even if they do manage to strike gold in the draft, it’s hard to argue that a young QB wouldn’t be best served throwing the ball to the most talented wideout in the league. OBJ has the ability to elevate any quarterback with his expansive skill set.

The Giants didn’t have to trade away Beckham for picks to get a talented QB, considering what the Jets traded to move up in the draft last year.

There are many who believe that the Giants won’t even draft a QB this year, which would make the move even more confounding. The trade was completely unnecessary and seemed almost designed to punish OBJ, who has occasionally frustrated management with his antics over the years, but is still a phenomenal talent who clearly wants to be in New York. After all, he did just sign a lucrative extension with the team last year.

Gettleman has made many questionable decisions during his short tenure as general manager so far, but this is easily the most shocking.

Unless the Giants can pull off the unthinkable, it looks like his time in New York is quickly running out. He is making the Giants look like the Browns and the Browns look like potential Super Bowl contenders.

Cleveland, the longtime NFL laughing stock, is now finally being considered among the better teams in the league.

This is a team that finally seems to have found its quarterback in Baker Mayfield and now has built a formidable supporting cast around him that could threaten those in the AFC North.

Unfortunately for them, the division is still one of the best in football.

While the Steelers may have just gotten rid of their problematic-yet-talented receiver, they are not the Giants. Pittsburgh still has a future Hall of Fame QB, a supreme offensive line, and a talented head coach with playoff experience. Getting through them won’t be easy, especially now that they seem to have ironed out the locker room issues. The Ravens lost a lot and gained a lot in free agency so it remains to be seen how they will look when the season starts, while the Bengals still remain a pesky division foe.

The path to end the 18-year long playoff drought will be a tough one, but there’s no doubt that the Browns are much better this week than they were last. A receiver tandem of Beckham and Jarvis Landry, former college teammates and longtime friends is easily the best in all of football.

Now combine that with No.1  overall pick last year, Mayfield, and a talented supporting cast that includes Nick Chubb, Sheldon Richardson and Kareem Hunt — once he returns from an eight-game suspension stemming from his videotaped violence against a woman that emerged last year — and this team looks ready to compete right now.

This is quite a far cry from the Browns team that couldn’t win a game in 2017. Cleveland has spent a lot of money and draft stock to become a serious contender so they will not want to settle for another 7-8-1 season like they had in 2018. They should, at the very least, finish above .500 for the first time in 12 years. If they don’t, there will surely be hefty consequences for Freddie Kitchens and his coaching staff.

Kitchens seemed to really turn this team around after Hue Jackson was fired last year, but it remains to be seen how he handles Beckham’s frequent hijinks.

Regardless, the talent on the field is indisputable for the Browns, who now resemble the picturesque successful tear down and rebuild strategy that the Philadelphia 76ers pulled off so well in the NBA.

Through gradual rebuilding, a commitment to signing the right free agents and carefully executed draft decisions, Cleveland now looks better than they have in decades.

Giants fans can only look on in envy. They are now the worst team in their city, aside from the dismal New York Knicks.

What makes matters worse is that the crosstown rival New York Jets inked running back Le’Veon Bell, the biggest free agent on the market, to a deal shortly after the Giants traded Beckham away. While the Jets continue to improve every day this offseason, the Giants only appear to be getting worse.

The good news for Giants fans is that the NFL is very much unlike the MLB and NBA. The direction of a franchise can change pretty quickly, depending on strategy and management.

Unfortunately, this is not an organization that looks like it has any perceivable strategy or capable management. Even after seemingly committing to a rebuild by purging All-Pro players, the Giants immediately ink over-the-hill receiver Golden Tate to a befuddling lucrative deal instead of addressing their defense, thus proving the ineptitude of those at the top.

This season is bound to be dreadful, perhaps even more so than last year. Without Beckham and Collins, the games might soon become hard to watch for even the most ardent Giants fans.

The best hope for New Yorkers is that the Giants hit the jackpot in the draft, Manning retires after the upcoming season and Gettleman gets relieved of his duties as general manager.

Even then, the rebuild might still be long and painful, but at least it will show that the organization has somewhat of a clue as to what it is trying to do.

While the Jets, Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Browns and Beckham himself can all salivate at the prospect of a successful upcoming season, it appears that — regardless of what happens in the draft — there is only one thing the Giants can do once the regular season starts: lose.

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