Odell Beckham Jr (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)Getty
After repeatedly saying that he didn’t sign receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a lucrative 5-year contract extension averaging over $17 million per season only to trade him, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman reversed course and decided to trade the star receiver anyway.
Such is the news that has rocked the NFL on the eve of the official start of the 2019 league year. The Giants are sending Beckham, their talented, but often controversial receiver, to the Browns in exchange for safety Jabrill Peppers, plus the Browns’ first-round pick (No. 17 overall) and the second of their two third-round picks (No. 96).
Here is everything you need to know about this blockbuster trade.
Why trade Beckham now?
The trade was reported by the NFL Network well after the close of business and because it won’t become official until 4:01 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 13, there was no official comment from anyone with the Giants.
To answer this question, let’s go back to 2006 when running back Tiki Barber played in his final season. The feeling back then was that Barber, an established veteran in the locker room, was always going to overshadow the then relatively new franchise quarterback, Manning.
When Barber called it quits, that’s when Manning became the true leader of the offense, a position he still has. So maybe the Giants management, in looking at what a polarizing figure Beckham can be, figured that the time might be right to move him ahead of potentially getting their next franchise quarterback.
This would then allow for whoever the new quarterback is to join running back Saquon Barkley as the unquestioned leaders on offense–and more importantly, spare the rookie quarterback from any outbursts Beckham might let slip the way he did with Manning.
What does this transaction do to their salary cap?
The Giants need to create space as thus far, they’ve been unable to partake much in free agency (at least what is known thus far of their activity).
Beckham was due a $16.75 million base salary and a $250K workout bonus for a total of $17 million cash due this year. He will count for $16 million in dead money, so if we deduct the dead money from the 2019 cash projection, that’s a $1 million net savings.
Peppers, who is still on his rookie deal, has a $1,405,204 cap hit for the Giants. (The remainder of his prorated signing bonus won’t hit the Giants cap).
So when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t look like a massive savings for 2019; however, an early projection per Over the Cap has the Giants with $103,875,639 of available cap space for 2020—more than enough to cover the cost of the franchise tag and transition tag (teams will be allowed to use both in the final league year of the CBA, which is 2020).
One final note about the salary cap. The absorption of the $16 million in dead money from the Beckham trade and the $8 million from the Vernon trade (in addition to what was on the books before) now pushes the Giants dead money to a league-high $33,656,400.
Why hang on to Eli Manning if they need cap space?
Again, let’s look at history. The Giants had veteran Kurt Warner, a future Hall of Famer, on the roster for one season to mentor Manning, whom the Giants acquired via trade from the Chargers.
When Manning was ready to take the reins, Warner gracefully stepped aside, and the rest is history.
With both Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur having expressed a preference in having their own version of the Kansas City plan—a veteran mentoring the future face of the franchise—and now with the Giants having an additional first round pick and having addressed their free safety need with a low-cost player, it wouldn’t exactly be a stretch to think that a quarterback now comes into play along with a pass rusher in the first round, with there still being room for an offensive lineman in the second round, and so forth.
Gettleman and Shurmur have both said that they would like for the next franchise quarterback to be able to sit and learn behind Eli Manning, who is entering the final year of his contract.
While there were plenty of people who wanted to see the Giants either cut or reduce Manning’s salary, it’s not a stretch to wonder if the Giants might be looking at a quarterback with one of their two first-round draft picks whom they can get on board to sit behind Manning for a year before sending the 38-year-old off into retirement.
So what do they do now about a No. 1 receiver?
The Giants were probably going to address receiver in the draft anyway—they simply couldn’t go into the season with a rotation at the third receiver as that experiment didn’t work.
Now it becomes a given that they’re going to have to do something to add a receiver who can slice the top off the defense. And that receiver, who will join Sterling Shepard (now presumed to be the No. 1 receiver on this team) will likely come from the early rounds of the draft.
Is it official? Is this team in rebuild mode?
Gettleman doesn’t like to use that word, but let’s call it for what it is: a rebuilding project.
With the trade of Beckham, only two draft picks—Shepard and linebacker B.J. Goodson—remain from the 2010-2016 classes, and only Zak DeOssie remains from the 2007 class (Manning was a trade acquisition).
Gettleman might not like the word “rebuild,” but that’s exactly where this franchise is. And if they do add the quarterback this year—again having the extra draft capital could very well change everything—then will there be any lingering doubt about where things stand?