In August 2018, Odell Beckham Jr. signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the New York Giants that appeared to put trade rumors to rest for good.
“We feel good about having him on our team for the next five years,” Giants owner John Mara told reporters.
Beckham responded with a bounce-back season with 1,052 receiving yards, despite missing four games. He even threw two touchdowns for an offense that struggled to be anything more than average with Eli Manning at the helm.
But it didn’t even take a year for trade rumors to bubble back up.
It’s not surprising that Beckham is a player many teams would want to acquire. The 26-year-old receiver already has 5,476 career receiving yards and 44 touchdowns in just 59 career games. His 92.8 yards per game is the second best average all-time behind only Julio Jones.
That’s also exactly why it’s so puzzling that trade rumors follow the receiver so persistently. Why would the Giants want to get rid of one of the league’s most elite, young talents?
What are the latest Beckham trade rumors?
March 12, 2019: Josina Anderson reported an AFC North team has been in an ongoing discussion with the Giants for a trade for Beckham. Jordan Zirm of Uproxx said a source told him a deal with the Browns is on the table that would send New York a first-round pick, second-round pick, and Emanuel Ogbah for the receiver.
But NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported that the rumors don’t mean a deal is close to happening.
“Everything that I have heard has been consistent that they are not looking to trade Odell Beckham Jr.,” Jones reported. “I believe they want him in the fold. They know they’re better with him on the field. Would two No. 1 picks do it? Perhaps. But there doesn’t seem to be a team lining up with that kind of mega-offer.”
March 11, 2019: The Giants are “still involved in trade discussions” involving Beckham, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
March 7, 2019: A day after Allbright said the Browns were rumored to be after Beckham, NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala confirmed the news. She got a little more specific and said that the Browns offered Kevin Zeitler, Emmanuel Ogbah, and one more player.
Kinkhabwala also said that the Giants laughed at the offer.
“I wouldn’t feel confident describing them (the rumors) as serious,” Kinkhabwala told 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland.
Zeitler was later traded to the Giants in exchange for pass rusher Olivier Vernon.
March 6, 2019: There were rumblings that the Browns were about to make a big move, and one reporter said that it was because Cleveland was making a run at Beckham:
Since others wont, I will.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 6, 2019
Basically the rumor that's out there, with many different variations is a Kevin Zeitler and draft picks plus another player for Odell Beckam.
I cannot stress enough that that is a rumor, and not currently coming from any known credible source
Feb. 20, 2019: Glazer said he wasn’t backing down on his earlier prediction, even though “a lot has to materialize for it to take place.”
Feb. 18, 2019: Bleacher Report’s Chris Simms said the Patriots pushed hard for a trade for Beckham in 2018. NBC’s Mike Florio responded to that by saying the 49ers have been — and continue to be — interested in trading for the receiver.
Feb. 13, 2019: Jay Glazer wrote on The Athletic that his bold prediction of the offseason is that Beckham will be traded.
Oct. 28, 2018: Jay Glazer said on Fox that several teams called the Giants ahead of the trade deadline with “some decent offers,” but were rebuffed.
Oct. 7, 2018: The receiver sat down with rapper Lil Wayne and ESPN’s Josina Anderson for an interview and gave some surprisingly honest and candid answers. That reignited a rift between the player and team, and just like that trade rumors were back.
Why won’t the Beckham trade rumors go away?
Shortly after the end of the 2018 season, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman tried to dump some water on the trade rumor embers before they turned into a fire.
Apparently that didn’t work.
With the possibility of a Beckham trade continuing to make headlines in February, the receiver has posted a few tweets that appear to show his frustration with the rumblings.
They don’t even kno what they did. The shift/ transformation, Is comin... thank u for motivating me yet again.— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) February 20, 2019
ONE DAY. Everything will all make sense in the end. I promise u. Story’s unfolding, it’s all a part of the journey. #JustWait— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) February 20, 2019
A comment on Instagram was even more pointed:
But the trade rumors are — at least to some degree — a self-inflicted wound for Beckham. A year ago, they popped up right around the time a video made the internet rounds that showed the receiver with an aspiring French model, a pizza, and a couple of things that resembled illegal substances.
“I guess my response to that is I’m tired of answering questions about Odell’s behavior,” Mara told reporters in March 2018. “He knows what’s expected of him, and now it’s up to him.”
Beckham has never been arrested and his only suspension was a one-game ban following a knock-down, drag-out battle with Josh Norman in 2015. While his colorful and larger-than-life persona has been a pain in the ass for the Giants at times, it hasn’t kept him out of action.
But the Giants wanted to see personal growth before they committed long-term to the receiver.
“The only question was, was it going to be this year, or were we going to give him another year to prove himself,” Mara said in August after Beckham was extended. “But as I said, he came in with the right attitude. His energy level has been off the roof. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.
“I think he’s matured quite a bit. … I think he’s ready to go on and be the type of player and citizen that we expect him to be, and I think he will be.”
Then came the interview with Lil Wayne. Beckham questioned Manning’s abilities, and suggested the Giants were holding the receiver back.
“I don’t feel like I’m being given the opportunity to be the very best that I can, to bring that every single day — and that’s really all I want to do, to bring that every single day,” Beckham said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve put up numbers, records have been broken and all those good things, not to say mean nothing to me, but I know they could have been double, or triple whatever they are now. That’s the part that bothers me.”
The reaction was swift.
Pat Shurmur was "livid" with Odell Beckham after the first part of his interview came out on Friday, according to Fox's @JayGlazer , and made Beckham apologize to the team. ... Shurmur's public reaction did not indicate any anger at all. Wonder if that'll change post-game today.— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) October 7, 2018
On top of the ill-advised interview, 2018 was another injury-shortened season for Beckham. A fractured ankle cost him 12 games in 2017, and a quad injury kept him out for the last four games of the year in 2018.
Five seasons into his career, he’s missed 20 games due to injury and one because of a suspension.
That combination of drama and unavailability makes the idea of cashing in a talented headache for draft capital and cap space intriguing.
You still shouldn’t expect a Beckham trade to happen
A day after Glazer predicted a trade will happen this offseason, odds were released that showed the Giants are still the likeliest team to have Beckham on the roster in 2019 — although it wasn’t very lopsided:
Odds for what team @obj will be on for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL regular season (BetOnline):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 14, 2019
Bears +2500 https://t.co/0HwGeSfJv8
Then at the NFL Combine, Gettleman reiterated his same talking point from earlier in the offseason:
Gentleman: “we didn’t sign Odell to trade him. That’s all I need to say about that.”— Judy Battista (@judybattista) February 27, 2019
The biggest obstacles for a trade getting done are:
- Beckham’s contract
- Trade compensation
The receiver is due to count $21 million against the Giants’ salary cap in 2019, but they would only save $5 million of that space by trading him this spring. If the Giants wait until after June 1 to trade Beckham, the team could recoup $17 million of that cap space and carry only $4 million in dead money. But that’d mean missing out on trading Beckham for 2019 draft picks and the big savings wouldn’t be that useful months after free agency.
Bottom line: If the Giants decide to trade Beckham for a pick (or picks) in the 2019 NFL Draft, the team is going to carry $16 million in dead money in 2019 and $12 million in 2020. That’s a whole lot of money going to a player who isn’t even on the roster.
Can the Giants even get enough for Beckham to make that much dead money worthwhile? A year ago, Brandin Cooks was traded for a first-round pick, presumably setting the price tag for Beckham — an even more productive receiver — higher than that.
A team would probably need to come with a significant trade package to pry Beckham from the Giants. Given his contract, his injury history, and a persona that may scare away a team or two — you probably shouldn’t count on a trade getting done.