Players most often come and go based on their production, or lack thereof. Odell Beckham Jr. has come and gone from the Giants and his departure has nothing to do with what he achieved or failed to accomplish on the field.
The Giants cannot, and did not, look at all the catches and yards and touchdowns and jaw-dropping plays and convince themselves Beckham could have done more. Trading him to the Browns, a deal consummated late Tuesday and made official Wednesday afternoon, ultimately came down to two separate but connected issues: What they could get for Beckham compared with how much energy they had to expend to keep him around.
There is an Odell-ness to Odell Beckham Jr. and, after five years, it eventually ran its course for the Giants. Some inside the building feel a sense of relief that the superstar receiver will no longer bring unwanted attention to a franchise that did not necessarily grow sick of him but grew increasingly exhausted trying to keep up with the issues and notoriety that clung to him the way the football stuck to his huge right hand.
Beckham was a popular but often polarizing presence with a legion of fans in awe of his talent and at times frustrated with his antics. To the sick children he visited — without fanfare — and the youngsters sporting dyed blond hair he thrilled with autographs, selfies and dance moves, Odell was a comic book hero in a No. 13 jersey. To traditionalists preferring hand-the-ball-to-the-referee comportment, Beckham was a solo artist, gifted but self-absorbed. There are no fence-sitters with Beckham and his exit is a curse or a blessing, depending on your Odell-meter.
There was no final straw here, no single moment since the season ended that convinced the Giants it was time for Beckham to go. If no deal the Giants deemed worthy presented itself, they would have moved ahead with Beckham. Coach Pat Shurmur was ready to embark on a second season with him. In haggling with the Browns, other players were offered, but the Giants held firm insisting on safety Jabrill Peppers and his inclusion in the transaction was the deciding factor, after the draft-pick compensation (the Browns’ first-round pick and one of their third-round picks) was agreed upon.
Beckham called this “a fresh start for me’’ and expressed his excitement about becoming a teammate of Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry.
“I will always appreciate the opportunity the Giants granted me and I’m thankful to them along with the fans and people in that city for supporting me,’’ Beckham said. “The Browns are an organization that is moving forward and it’s exciting to be a part of something special that is in the process of being built.’’
Certainly, this is a far cry from late August, when the Giants gave Beckham a five-year, $90 million contract. Why pay him if there were doubts they could win big with him? Well, general manager Dave Gettleman and ownership believe Beckham earned the money, based on his production his first four seasons. Also, and this should not be discounted, Gettleman did not want speculation about Beckham’s contract to linger and threaten to compromise Shurmur’s first season. Remember, Gettleman a few weeks ago said, “Part of the responsibility of the general manager is to eliminate distractions.’’