Stop the presses and hold your horses, football gamblers, former New York Giants superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) has been traded by the only franchise he’s ever played for in the NFL to the, wait for it, Cleveland Browns, the fastest rising star in the AFC North.
This news has sent the football world into a ‘no way this just happened’ tizzy because rarely would any team give up the kind of once-in-a-lifetime player Beckham is, and especially not for what the Giants just traded him for.
Browns fans are rejoicing while Giants fans heave a collective sigh of WTF and the oddsmakers are frantically shifting Cleveland’s and New York’s chances for a playoff appearance next season, so we take a closer look at Beckham’s story and how his trade has shifted the Browns’ and Giants’ postseason odds.
Quick Bio: who is Odell Beckham Jr.?
If you’re an NFL fan or especially a fantasy football player, you already well know that Odell Beckham Jr. is considered one of the top wide receivers in the NFL, but the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Odell Cornelious (his spelling) Beckham Jr. started out as a three-sport star in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
OBJ played basketball and ran track at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans and on the football team he played wide receiver, quarterback, running back and cornerback for the Greenies, with 50 catches for 1,010 yards and 19 touchdowns his senior season.
Named to the Times Picayune 2011 Blue-Chip list and the District 9-2A Offensive MVP, Beckham was a four-star recruit out of high school and was rated as the No. 6 wide receiver (and No. 40 player) in the nation.
After fielding many scholarship offers (Ole Miss, Tulane, Nebraska, Tulsa), in the end, he chose to play his college ball near home at Louisiana State University.
How good was OBJ at LSU?
After being named a freshman All-SEC selection for his 41 receptions for 475 yards and two touchdowns, Beckham had an equally solid sophomore season when he caught 43 balls for 713 yards and two touchdowns while also returning two punts for touchdowns and handling some kickoff returns.
Beckham’s junior season was outstanding, winning the 2013 Paul Hornung Award for the most versatile player in major college football after catching 59 balls for 1,152 yards and 8 touchdowns while still handling the punt and kickoff return duties.
As a lot of young players are doing nowadays, Beckham decided to forgo his senior season of college eligibility and entered the 2014 NFL draft.
When was OBJ drafted by the New York Giants?
The New York Giants under head coach Tom Coughlin selected Beckham in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft with the 12th overall pick.
The Giants and Beckham agreed to a four-year deal worth a fully-guaranteed $10.406 million, including a $5.888 million signing bonus.
There was also a fifth-year option that was worth $8.5 million.
How good were OBJ’s first three seasons with the Giants?
Let’s just say his first NFL season in 2014 was hailed as one of the greatest ever by a rookie, after catching 91 balls for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 14.2 yards per catch and being selected for the Pro Bowl and being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In his second NFL season, Beckham was suspended for a game for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules (see below) but was still selected to the Pro Bowl after catching 96 calls for a career-high 1,450 yards and 12 touchdowns while his fellow players ranked him tenth on the NFL Top 100 Players of that season.
2016 was Beckham’s third Pro Bowl season in a row, and he caught 101 balls for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns and he was selected Second-team All-Pro for the second year in a row and this time his fellow players ranked him eighth on the NFL Top 100 Players of that season.
How and when did OBJ first get seriously injured?
The first sign of injury was right before his rookie season in 2014, when a hamstring injury kept him out of the majority of the training camp, preseason and the first four games of the season.
During the 2017 season, Beckham missed the first week due to an ongoing ankle injury, and then left the Week 5 game with a fractured left ankle that kept him out for the remainder of the season, though in the four games he played he still managed to catch 25 balls for 302 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 12.1 yards per catch.
OBJ also had to sit out the last four games of 2018 due to a quad injury.
How did OBJ play last season?
Despite having to sit for four games, Beckham still broke the 1,000+ yards receiving mark (1,052) after catching 77 balls and averaging 13.7 yards per catch with 6 touchdowns.
OBJ also ran the ball 5 times last season for 19 yards, averaging 3.8 yards per carry.
And get this - in one of the highlights of an otherwise sad Giants’ season, Beckham dusted off his quarterbacking skills and threw a duck to rookie running back Saquon Barkley who went all the way to the house for a 57-yard touchdown.
Why does OBJ sometimes get a bad rap?
Odell is an intense player who gets caught up in the moment and ends up making some not-so-smart choices.
For instance, he was suspended for a game in the 2015 season for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules, with three unnecessary roughness calls including a late helmet-to-helmet hit and what’s been called a “knock-down, drag-out battle” with cornerback Josh Norman.
And there was the time after a playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers during the 2016 season that Beckham punched a hole in the wall of the visiting team’s locker room which the Giants had to have repaired (and did, ten days later).
And then there are the times he’s been fined for excessive celebrations and other nasty hits, and some folks just don’t like his funky (some call it ‘squiggly’) hairstyle and willingness to ‘express himself honestly’, but regardless of how OBJ behaves, he seems to always back it up with stellar play on the field.
When did talk of trading OBJ begin?
Of course, there are always random trade rumors that float around players during their controversies, but the first major sign that something was not right between OBJ and the Giants was when he sat down and talked with ESPN and rapper Lil Wayne last October.
Beckham’s candid comments reignited the rift that had already somewhat existed between him and the team.
Though several teams attempted to make offers for Beckham after that, none tempted general manager David Gettleman enough to make a deal for his best player happen.
Didn’t OBJ just get re-signed by the Giants last season?
Yes, before the 2018 season even got started, the Giants and Beckham agreed to a $95 million contract extension “with $41 million fully guaranteed with a total of $65 million in guarantees”.
Which is why it seemed ludicrous that the Giants would be open to any offers to trade him.
In fact, when asked about the trade rumors back in January, Gettleman was even quoted as saying, “We didn’t sign him to trade him.”
What did the Giants get from the Browns for OBJ?
The trade was simple and came far below the expected cost for a player like OBJ, which was said to be at the very least two first-round draft picks and then some.
What they did get was one first round draft pick (No. 17) and one third round draft pick (No. 95) plus safety Jabrill Peppers, who was a first-round draft pick in 2017.
Across the board, football experts are aghast at the deal that was made, saying Cleveland’s general manager John Dorsey will go down in Browns’ history for this mind-blowing deal.
What do the experts have to say about the OBJ-to-Cleveland trade?
On the Browns side, they rate it a 10, saying Cleveland got a game changer in exchange for a couple of draft picks and a player who last season played only two-thirds of the defensive snaps.
On the Giants side, they rate it a 1 or in some cases less, saying it doesn’t make sense to unload your best guy after just signing him for a long term deal.
The only thing that makes sense from the Giants’ point of view is if they needed that first-round draft pick to use in conjunction with their own to move up in the draft to grab their next franchise quarterback (Kyler Murray? Dwayne Haskins? Daniel Jones?) before he’s already been taken.
How many franchise and NFL records does OBJ have?
Too many to list here.
OBJ has broken 14 Giants franchise records, including most receiving yards for a rookie in one season (1,305) and highest average receiving yards per game for the season (108.8).
There are now 24 NFL records with Beckham’s name on them, including fastest to reach 100 career receptions (14 games) and fastest to reach 5,000 career receiving yards (54 games).
What does having OBJ on their roster do for the Browns in 2019?
OBJ offers Browns strong-armed quarterback Baker Mayfield the veteran deep-threat he was lacking last season.
Having OBJ running routes in the secondary which will draw at least a cornerback and a safety towards him and give receivers like Jarvis Landry and David Njoku and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt a lot more space to make big plays happen.
The Browns are 1 of 4 active NFL franchises to never reach the Super Bowl (Lions, Texans, Jaguars), and Dorsey appears to be trying to change that sooner rather than later.
His plan is to take advantage of having so many talented players under cheaper rookie contracts by surrounding them with costlier talented veteran playmakers like Beckham and Landry who have the experience to win football games.
What does NOT having OBJ on their roster do for the Giants in 2019?
OBJ was Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning’s go-to guy, and now that’s going to have to be Sterling Shepard, and with all due respect, that’s a big downgrade.
Some argue that if the Giants are indeed rebuilding – and unloading OBJ is definitely a rebuilding move – then why didn’t they think of that before they re-signed him for so much money last season?
And why didn’t they think of that before last year’s quarterback heavy draft when they could have replaced the aging Manning already?
The trade has baffled quite a few experts and fans alike, but the oddsmakers have adjusted the related odds quickly and without confusion.
How did the Browns’ Las Vegas odds to win the AFC shift after the OBJ trade?
- Before trade: 12-1
- After trade: 7-1
With OBJ on their roster, the Browns’ new AFC Champion odds trail only the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Some football experts are even going on record and calling the Cleveland Browns Super Bowl contenders.
Not bad for a sad sack team that went 1-15 in 2016, 0-16 in 2017 and 7-8-1 last season.
How did the Giants’ Las Vegas odds to win the AFC shift after the OBJ trade?
- Before trade: 20-1
- After trade: 40-1
Without OBJ on the Giants’ roster, New York’s playoff odds go down considerably.
Head coach Pat Shurmur is obviously going to build the team around the sensational Barkley, but that probably won’t translate to wins in the 2019-20 season.
Odds are the New York Giants and their impatient fans are in for a long period of frustrating struggles.