Here we go again.
It was only six months ago that the Giants showed how they felt about Odell Beckham Jr. by signing him to a monster, five-year, $90 million contract with $65 million guaranteed. And it was only six weeks ago that GM Dave Gettleman responded to a question about whether he’d be open to trading Beckham this offseason by saying, “We didn’t sign him to trade him, if that’s what you’re asking me.”
So, with their wallet and their words, the Giants have made it clear they envision a future with Beckham. But with Beckham and the Giants it’s never that simple.
Last offseason, there was a swirl of speculation (flamed by Giants management) that the star receiver was on the trading block, and now it’s happening again. The latest swirl came Wednesday when Jay Glazer, the well-connected NFL Insider with The Athletic, wrote a mailbag and answered a question from a reader who wanted “some bold predictions about the NFL offseason.”
“I predict Odell Beckham Jr. gets traded this offseason,” Glazer wrote. “I think that’s bold enough.”
Indeed. It was also enough to set off a Twitter frenzy – the same kind that’s created when Beckham does anything from sneezing to speaking to playing catch with a chimp. Glazer, who also works for Fox Sports, is one of the most connected national reporters in the business. He also got his start covering the Giants and has long-time connections to Gettleman and others in the front office.
So clearly it’s more than a guess, right? He must know something!
Well, whether his “bold prediction” was a wild guess or an educated one is unclear, since he didn’t provide any details. But whatever it was, there’s a long way to go and a lot of obstacles to overcome before a prediction becomes a fact. Could the Giants trade Beckham this offseason? Sure. They could do anything. Will they? Probably not.
Here’s a look at where everything with the Giants, Beckham, and a potential trade currently stands:
Dave Gettleman notably didn’t say he wouldn’t trade Beckham
Three days after the season, I’m the one who asked him if he was committed to Beckham being on the Giants in 2019, or if he was open to trading his star receiver. After he said “We didn’t sign him to trade him,” I followed up by asking “So he’ll be here?” Gettleman’s answer: “You heard what I said.”
Yes, I did. I also heard what he didn’t say. He didn’t say “Yes, Odell will be here” or “No I won’t trade him” or even “What a stupid question. We love OBJ!” That may just be typical GM speak, like Jerry Reese’s old standby “Never say never.” But it also undoubtedly left the door at least slightly ajar.
Gettleman’s words still matter
They may not be definitive, but he’s usually pretty open about his thoughts and intentions. Remember last year, before the draft, when – as Gettleman so eloquently put it — “you watched me drool all over myself” for Saquon Barkley, and lo and behold he was the Giants’ pick?
Eleven months ago, when the Beckham trade stuff first surfaced, Gettleman was asked if he wanted Beckham on his team and he said “I’m not going there. Next question.” He also talked about how it was his job “to eliminate internal and external distractions” in a not-at-all separate thought.
Why? Because teams were calling and he was listening back then, so he chose his words carefully. There’s a wide gap between that and “We didn’t sign him to trade him.”
The contract is prohibitive, but not impossible to move
Beckham is signed for five more years and has a cap number of $21 million this year. Trading him before June 1 makes no sense because he’d still count for $16 million in dead money (giving them a $5 million cap savings). After June 1, though, they’d actually clear $17 million in 2019 space, reducing his cap hit to $4 million.
Of course, free agency would be over by then, so there’d be no one to spend it on, and he’d still count for another $12 million in dead money in 2020. In other words, trading him would get rid of their long-term commitment to him, but it wouldn’t help much in the short term.
The Giants would have to replace him
This is a pretty significant issue. The free agent market is embarrassingly thin when it comes to receivers (Golden Tate, who’ll be 31 in August, is probably the best available). The draft has some prospects, but none right now are considered definite Top 10 talent. Plus, if the Giants drafted a receiver at 6, they’d be passing on an offensive or defensive lineman or quarterback they so desperately need.
And there’s no internal replacement. All they had last season beyond Beckham was Sterling Shepard, who has become a possession receiver, and a bunch of guys who couldn’t grab the No. 3 job. How is getting rid of Beckham without replacing him with a star receiver going to help an offense that was a mess the last few years?
Team sources have echoed what Gettleman said – and what he didn’t say – over the last month. They’ve stressed that the GM should be taken at his word, but no one would go so far as to guarantee anything. So it sounds like the Giants don’t want to trade Beckham and have no intention to shop him. But if someone calls, they would listen. And if someone knocked them over with an offer they can’t refuse?
It would have to be huge. Last year, when the Los Angeles Rams called and the San Francisco 49ers expressed some interest, the Giants were more willing to listen than they seem to be now, and their starting price was a first-round pick, plus. Some reports said the asking price was actually two first-rounders.
Given the details of his contract, the fact that the Giants don’t have a ton of cap room to begin with, and that they would need to add a top receiver to their long list of other needs if they dealt Beckham, there’s no reason to believe their exorbitant asking price will change.
So for now, it’s just a bold prediction that Beckham will be dealt. There’s no reason to believe it will actually happen. There’s also no way to say definitively that it won’t.
In the meantime, here’s another, much less bold prediction about Beckham: Until someone from the Giants steps up and declares that he’s definitely not on the market, these offseason trade rumors aren’t going away.