The (not-so) shocking trade of superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns this week by the dead-in-the-water New York Giants has fans thinking about his whirlwind tenure here, one that consisted of as many chills as it did thrills.
Beckham was the Giants’ top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft (12th overall) out of LSU and came in with a resume of a game-changing playmaker.
In my first interview with Beckham at the draft, my impression of him was that of a shy, but confident young man. Little did I know what he’d become. Not sure he knew, either.
Now that his time here is done, trying to reflect back on his Giants’ career is exhausting. He was like a streaking meteor, burning brightly one minute, disappearing the next.
When he shone, he shone brighter than any Giant since Lawrence Taylor. When things didn’t go his way however, he’d react in some unexpected and sometimes disturbing fashion.
No way that could last, and it didn’t. Stardom caught up with Beckham here in New York. His bizarre behavior, antics and early immaturity somehow managed to cancel out most of the greatness of his historic accomplishments.
When he was on, he was the most fun player to watch in my lifetime. But there were too many cringe-worthy moments that made him expendable in the end.
Beckham leaves behind a legacy of enthralling moments highlighted by the leaping, one-handed touchdown catch against Dallas on national television in 2014 — one of the many acrobatic and impossible plays he made in his five seasons for Big Blue.
He only played in 59 games, but it seemed like he played here for 10 years. He was practically uncoverable and appeared to be playing on a different plane at times, just like Taylor.
Odell reeled in 390 passes, which is the fourth-highest total in Giants history behind Amani Toomer (668), Tiki Barber (586) and Joe Morrison (395).
His 324 receptions and 4,535 yards are NFL records for the first 50 games of a career. Beckham managed to do that in 48 games.
Beckham ends his Giants career with 5,476 receiving yards, second-most in Giants’ history (Toomer, 9,497) and fourth in touchdowns with 44. His 24 career 100-yard games are a franchise record.
Last year Beckham became the first player in 94 years to record multiple games with a touchdown pass and a receiving touchdown in a single season.
Beckham was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 and was named to the Pro Bowl three times. He is rare talent that comes along once in a decade, maybe even a generation.
But the Giants had no choice but to part ways with him.
Beckham’s star had become too great for the sagging Giants franchise to bear. They gave it a shot by signing him to a five-year, $85 million deal last year, but it was clear they had file for divorce if both were going to survive.
Having missed 16 of the last 32 games due to injury practically made his contract untenable going forward. He suddenly became the Giants’ golden ticket, their parachute, their only way out of a down cycle of five losing seasons one the past six years.
The arrival of running back Saquon Barkley also showed the Giants that there could be life without Odell. Barkley wrested the mantle from Beckham as the Giants’ most important offensive player with his versatility, production, ability and leadership.
Beckham is a solid citizen and a great teammate, but for this Giants team he was no longer a fit. He had outgrown them. They needed to rebuild and he needed a change of scenery. The trade should help both parties accomplish their goals.