EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — What a stunner!
After their first season under general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur, the New York Giants were thinking some pieces in free agency might help them get back to the playoffs for only the second time since 2011.
Yet, less than 24 hours before free agents could begin signing contracts, the Giants went from a contender to seemingly a team in disarray with the trade of star wide receiver Odell Beckham to the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday night.
Not only did the Giants (5-11) lose their offensive catalyst of the last four seasons and one of the NFL most talented players, but it's questionable if they got full value in return. The Browns sent them young safety Jabrill Peppers, the No. 17 pick overall in April's draft and a third-round choice, Cleveland's second in the round.
It was baffling. Gettleman spent months saying he didn't make the 26-year-old Beckham the NFL's highest-paid receiver in late August to trade him. He also said teams should never give up on talent; Beckham's antics often exasperated the Giants.
Somehow, the GMs' thought pattern changed in recent weeks.
The deal is a clear indication the Giants are going to focus their offense on halfback Saquon Barkley, the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Coupled with the Beckham trade, the Giants also decided not to franchise safety Landon Collins, their leading tackler in each of his four seasons. He signed an $84 million deal with the Washington Redskins and New York got nothing immediately in return — except the right to now face him twice a year.
The trade of Beckham also stuck the Giants with an extra $16 million in dead cap money, pushing the team's total to more than $33 million in 2019.
Gettleman now has to decide what to do with 38-year-old Eli Manning, who will carry a $23 million cap hit in the final year of his contract. There is no quarterback in waiting to replace him.
The positives for the Giants are they now have 12 draft picks, including No. 6 and 17 overall, and can draft a quarterback or use the picks for edge rushers, wide receivers, defensive backs or offensive linemen. They need a lot.
Gettleman was not available for comment Wednesday. The team sent out a release confirming the trade along with one that sent Olivier Vernon to the Browns for guard Kevin Zeitler.
"The New York Football Giants would like to thank Odell Beckham, Jr. for his contributions," Gettleman said in a statement. "We truly wish him well in Cleveland, and we want to wish OV the best and nothing but success for both of them."
In an interview with Kim Jones of NFL Network, Beckham said he was processing the deal.
"It is what it is. It's life," he told Jones.
Besides the two first-round picks, the Giants will have one in the second, third and sixth rounds; two in the fourth; three in the fifth; and two in the seventh.
"You can win while you build a roster," Gettleman said. "We do have a plan, and this is a part of it."
The Giants' first-round draft choice in 2014, Beckham played in 59 regular-season games and had 390 receptions for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns. The catches and receiving touchdowns are both the second-highest totals in Giants history, while the yardage total is fourth. Beckham was a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons and was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014.