It’s reasonable to believe Odell Beckham and the New York Giants will live happily ever after. Beckham is one of the NFL’s best players, and he’s 25. Whatever else is said about Beckham, he’s irreplaceable to the Giants. We’ve often seen fractured NFL relationships work out.
Yet, the Giants are frustrated with Beckham and seem to be serious about exploring all their options. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reported the Giants are open to fielding trade offers for Beckham, and Leonard even reported a price: a first-round pick “plus” is the starting point. That’s probably less than two first-round picks, and that’s not outrageous. The Los Angeles Rams are already inquiring, the Daily News reported.
Let’s assume the Giants would seriously field offers, and this isn’t just a way for the team to send a message to Beckham, who is frustrating the team with his off-field headlines and reportedly won’t play without a contract extension. If we are willing to believe the Giants would move Beckham with the right offer — it’s perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of that, considering owner John Mara said, “We’re certainly not shopping him,” according to ESPN — then there’s a pretty interesting follow-up question …
If you were an NFL general manager, would you trade for Beckham?
Yes, without a doubt
If teams believe the Giants would trade Beckham, they’ll field plenty of phone calls. The reason you trade for Beckham is obvious. He’s one of the NFL’s best players. It’s no surprise a team like the Rams have already contacted the Giants to show interest, according to the Daily News.
In Beckham’s first three relatively healthy seasons, his 16-game average was 107 catches, 1,534 yards and 13 touchdowns. If you take Jerry Rice’s prime, in which he made 10 All-Pro teams in 11 seasons from 1986-1996, his average was 94-1,437-14. Beckham has Hall of Fame upside. That’s not even arguable.
Let’s use the Rams as an example, since they’re the first to have reported interest. The Rams have the 23rd pick, which would clearly be part of the trade equation. It’s very, very unlikely the Rams draft someone at No. 23 who is as good as Beckham. In 2013, the Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin for a first- and seventh-round pick that year and a future third-round pick. Beckham is way better than Harvin was at that point and would presumably cost more. Is a first-, second- and mid-round pick worth it for Beckham? Again, it’s almost impossible to make an argument that anyone the Rams could draft in those spots would be better than Beckham. That applies to any team, pretty much no matter where they draft in the first round.
If your argument is that Beckham’s talent is worth whatever price you have to pay, it’s reasonable. Beckham is that type of player. For a team like the Rams, it would make them a Super Bowl favorite. That’s why you’d do the deal.
No, he’s not worth the hassle
Beckham is clearly great, but there are four arguments against trading for him: cost in a trade, cost in a contract, health and having to deal with the baggage.
Cost in a trade: While no single draft pick will likely be as good as Beckham, having young talent under cost control for four years (five for a first-round pick) is hugely important in the NFL. Even if Beckham could be acquired for a Harvin-level deal, it would sting to give up first-, third- and seventh-round picks. There’s a reason teams hold onto their picks so dearly.
Cost in a contract: Beckham has said he wants more than $20 million a year. Antonio Brown leads all receivers at $17 million per season. If Beckham is serious and he holds firm for top quarterback money, that’s a lot to commit to one player. Going back to the Rams scenario, Giants tight end Evan Engram was the 23rd pick of last year’s draft. His cap hits his first four years will be between $1.9 million and $3.4 million. You can buy a lot of extra talent with between $16-18 million in cap space. For example, Alshon Jeffery’s contract with the Philadelphia Eagles is worth $13 million a year. It’s hard to build a championship team with a quarterback taking up as big of a chunk of the salary cap as Beckham wants. It might be impossible with a receiver getting that much.
Health: Beckham is coming off a broken ankle. While there’s no indication he won’t be back at 100 percent, it’s still a little scary to invest multiple picks and a record-breaking contract without seeing him play after that injury. A consideration, at least.
Baggage: The Giants’ frustration is understandable, although most of Beckham’s drama doesn’t rise to the serious legal variety. Yes, he mimicked being a dog peeing in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, and he took frustration out on a kicking net. His recent video with a model and a white substance isn’t the best look, but it doesn’t prove any guilt either. The Giants seem particularly sensitive about all the various drama (once again, it’s an organization that put up with kicker Josh Brown despite a domestic violence history, so it seems hypocritical to freak out when Beckham acts like a peeing dog), and other teams might tire of it too. Being in the New York market has increased the scrutiny. But going to a quiet, sleepy town like Los Angeles would present many of the same issues.
Teams will ask about Beckham, now that the door has been opened for discussions. We’ll find out how serious the Giants are about moving him, and which teams would actually do a deal given the costs involved. You could make a good argument either way.
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