Should the Giants explore an Odell Beckham Jr. reunion?

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Odell talking no helmet on Giants blue uniform
Odell talking no helmet on Giants blue uniform

Dave Gettleman once famously said that the Giants didn’t sign Odell Beckham Jr. to trade him. But he never made any promises about not claiming him on waivers a few years later.

Don’t count on it, though, even though the mercurial and once-dynamic Beckham will soon be officially waived by the Browns, and the Giants are pretty short-handed on offense thanks to a slew of injuries. It took a lot to convince the Giants to trade the star receiver two-and-a-half years years ago, just seven months after giving him a $95 million contract with $65 million guaranteed. And a lot of people that lived through the Beckham Experience are still there.

It was incredible at the beginning, a wild ride that was turbulent from start to finish. But it was very ugly near the end.

Beckham still has his supporters inside the Giants’ offices. But there aren’t nearly enough people there who would want to endure his roller coaster ride again.

Forget for a second that Beckham just isn’t the same player he was when he was with the Giants, and that he’s only played in 13 games over the last year and a half due to a variety of injuries, including a torn ACL last year and a shoulder injury this year. He’s still so incredibly talented and occasionally explosive – and still just 29 -- that based on ability and potential alone he’s got to be worth a shot for any receiver-needy team.

Except that Beckham comes with baggage. He has now been dumped by two organizations, alienated two quarterbacks and ticked off two head coaches. That’s quite the resume through his first eight NFL seasons. His issues in Cleveland were with quarterback Baker Mayfield, whom he clearly blamed for the Browns’ offensive struggles and his own sagging numbers. And even if he wouldn’t say it himself, his dad took to Instagram to basically rip Mayfield and make the Beckhams position clear.

That the junior Beckham didn’t immediately come back and distance himself from his dad’s rant was alarming, if not surprising. It was somewhat reminiscent of his infamous ESPN interview in October, 2018 – just two months after getting his massive contract extension -- when he was asked if the Giants had a quarterback problem and he said “I don’t know.” He was later given multiple chances by the New York media to clarify his stance or offer his full-throated support for Eli Manning, the Giants’ franchise quarterback. But he never did.

That enraged then-Giants coach Pat Shurmur, who previously had been one of Beckham’s biggest supporters. Beckham was already mouthing off behind the scenes, sources said back then, telling his fellow receivers how he thought Manning was dragging the Giants’ offense down. But the public back-stabbing, even if it wasn’t explicit, was just too much for the coach to stand.

It’s easy to see how Browns coach Kevin Stefanski would feel the same way.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and running back Saquon Barkley (26) on sideline during second half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and running back Saquon Barkley (26) on sideline during second half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Still, NFL coaches can handle a lot of baggage as long as a player is helping them win. That’s why its easy to see a contender – say, the Green Bay Packers or the New Orleans Saints – being willing to bring him aboard. Every NFL head coach looks at problem players and thinks “I can fix him. I can make this work.” And in the right situation for Beckham, with the right quarterback on the right team, surely – at least in the short term – someone probably can.

But the Giants aren’t the right situation and don’t have the right quarterback or team. If Beckham was unhappy here before, when the Giants’ offense was arguably better, how happy is he going to be now as they struggle to move the ball in an already lost season? If he wasn’t happy with a two-time Super Bowl champion like Manning or even with Mayfield, is he suddenly going to find bliss with a still-growing Daniel Jones?

For all the Giants’ talk about team chemistry and character, why in the world would they even take that chance?

And for what? Because at this point they’re not getting Beckham, circa 2016, when he was still catching about 100 passes per year for 1,400 yards and 10-plus touchdowns. They’re getting an older receiver whose body has been battered, who has just 40 catches for 551 yards and three touchdowns in 13 game over the past two years.

Oct 25, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) warms up before the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium.
Oct 25, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) warms up before the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium.

Could he be a short-term boost in the right situation? Sure. He’s probably better than most of the receivers on the Saints. He’d be a good No. 2 in Green Bay where just his presence would remove some of the defenses’ focus on Davante Adams. There are plenty of contenders who would view him as a short-term boost or a sparkplug – worth it, if the cost is low.

But the Giants? Been there, done that, and it’s not at all what they need right now. They have a young, exciting, Odell-like receiver in Kadarius Toney. They will hopefully get Kenny Golladay back soon, too. And their offense still belongs to Saquon Barkley whenever he finally returns to the field.

Adding Beckham makes no sense. He’d be a bit player, despite being under the intense glare of the New York media – and he knows all too well how hot that can be. There’s no way he’d be happy returning to this city, this organization.

And there’s no way it could possibly end well.