Being an NFL fan in the UK can be painful during the season, between September and February you can often see us rolling into work with red eyes, yawning as we sit at our desk. But, during the off-season we feel fairly safe taking an early night, even with Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter doing overtime on our Twitter feeds.
Well, this morning we woke up to a bomb shell.
After months of ‘where will Le’Veon Bell end up’ hype, his move to the Jets was blown out the water by a trade that will make waves throughout the league but particularly in the AFC North.
Odell Beckham Jr is now a Cleveland Brown. How does that feel Browns fans? I’ll say it again, OBJ is a Cleveland Brown.
In return, the Giants take the 17th and 95th pick of the 2019 draft and safety, Jabrill Peppers.
So, how did each party fair in this trade? We’ve got you covered.
The Browns immediately become a lot more dangerous. Beckham is a straight up star player, with the ability to change a game in a flash.
Freddie Kitchens is surely now sat with pen and whiteboard, laughing and figuring out how he’s going to make the most of OBJ, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt after the inevitable suspension has been served. That is a seriously good set of skill players, and they’ll be served by a Quarterback which everyone believes will kick on and be a franchise player for the next 15 years.
Beckham is more than that to the Browns though, he’s a media draw, he’s the football equivalent of LeBron James and he’s in Ohio to get his poster on every street corner.
I expect we’ll see the Browns start the season with a raft of prime time slots, and Beckham will be the reason for that. This brings added pressure, but if anyone can handle it, Baker Mayfield looks to be that guy.
On the field, the addition of a straight up stud number one receiver will be a blessing for Landry, Antonio Callaway and Njoku.
After leaving Miami last year, Cleveland used Landry as he wanted, a player that can stretch the field and make big plays along the sideline. He might not like it, but OBJ’s arrival might move him, on occasion, back to the slot and the type of production he had with the Dolphins.
Callaway and Njoku are also set to benefit from opposition defensive packages which will undoubtedly double up on Beckham. We already know Njoku is a red-zone threat, and this move only helps him. Callaway in many ways is a similar threat to the Browns’ latest addition, fast, strong and can switch up his route on a dime.
There’s no denying that this is a good move for the Browns, and in the same week that they add Sheldon Richardson and Oliver Vernon, they are a team fully in ascent. The AFC North, with the Steelers and Bengals seemingly bottoming out, is in for a change.
New York Giants
We all know that, at times, New York was in a love-hate relationship with Odell Beckham Jr. There was the fight with the kicking net, there was the overblown reaction to his celebrations and there was the sheer euphoria when he made that catch against the Cowboys.
Well, it’s over guys. The Giants have moved on from him. And, I’m not sure it’s a bad thing.
Hear me out. OBJ was undoubtedly a talent that the Giants won’t be able to replace like for like, but I’m not going to mention that he only started 14 games in the last two seasons whilst constantly making his Head Coach and General Manager aware about rumors that he wanted to be gone from the team. Oh, I did write it, sorry!
There was also the fact that Eli Manning and the coaching staff were constantly facing questions about locker-room rifts, sure this is fairly standard and especially for the Giants in recent years. But did they really want to be handling that on a weekly basis? Evidently not.
What they will obviously miss is that on-field production, there’s no doubt that OBJ struck fear in NFC East defenders and with the ball in his hand is arguably the most explosive player in the NFL.
As I said above, there’s no immediate like for like solution for this. But I don’t think Pat Shurmur is phased by that, he’s got another first round pick and a quality new addition to his defense as part of the deal.
What the Giants do with that extra pick is what makes or break that trade for them. There’s been a lot of talk saying that they won’t use the 6 pick on a QB, but now with another first in their back pocket and a stack of defensive talent on offer, surely they have to think about taking Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray at six. If I was a Giants fan, I’d certainly be calling for that, and then someone like DT Ed Oliver or DE Clelin Ferrell with the pick from the Browns.
If the Giants address the QB issue early, and with a supporting cast of Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley, they might just win around their fans. If however, they don’t take a QB at six and stick with the continuation of Eli, that’s when I join the New York Daily News and call this a shambles of a decision.
Odell Beckham Jr
The obvious winner in this trade is OBJ himself. He gets; a young exciting QB to throw him the ball, to play with his college roommate and BFF, Landry, to play as part of a team on the up with talent across the field, and a chance to break free of the New York media that have hounded his every step.
I also think it’s another win for player power in a league that is historically resistant to this. With Bell, Brown, and Beckham we’ve seen that franchise players can force a move and do you know what’s exciting for the league, they’ve all chosen different ways to do it.
Bell sat out for the season and made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ in football terms, to lose money. Brown just straight up acted his way out of Pittsburgh, and Beckham went about it quite quietly in the grand scheme of things, leveraging his connections in Cleveland to get the move he wanted.
What’s for certain is the Browns and Beckham are the immediate winners of this deal, the Giants could, and it’s a big could, take a positive franchise changing step this off-season, facilitated by this deal, and prevent their near neighbors and Lev Bell from taking over as the big dog in the Big Apple.
By Andy Moore – @ajmoore21