Odell Beckham Jr is bound for the Cleveland Browns as the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade, according to multiple sources.
The Browns are thought to be sending first- and third-round picks this year along with safety Jabrill Peppers to the New York Giants for Beckham, one of the NFL’s most explosive players, although league rules prohibit teams from announcing trades until 4pm ET on Wednesday. The deal is conditional on both players passing physicals.
The 26-year-old summed up his move to the Browns in one word when he spoke to ESPN’s Josina Anderson: “Wow”. The New York Post had similar sentiments: its back page headline on Wednesday morning read: “OMG OBJ”. Meanwhile, LeBron James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of last season, had his say on Beckham coming to his hometown: “OH MY!!!! S*#% just got REAL!!” he posted on Instagram.
Beckham will be reunited with receiver Jarvis Landry, a close friend and college teammate at LSU. He’ll also give quarterback Baker Mayfield an elite weapon, and his arrival could vault the Browns, who went 7-8-1 last season after not winning a game in 2017, into legitimate championship contenders.
While Beckham is immensely talented, he does come with caveats. He was suspended for one game for his on-field battles with Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, and he is coming off two injury-plagued years. Before last season, he became the league’s highest-paid receiver with a five-year, $90m contract extension. He played five seasons in New York, making the Pro Bowl in his first three. He was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014.
The Giants had been reluctant to trade Beckham, with GM Dave Gettleman insisting over the past few months that the club did not sign him to the historic deal in late August to trade him. But the Browns were persistent and Dorsey, who has remolded the Browns since coming to Cleveland at the end of 2017, came up with a package the Giants simply couldn’t resist. “John Dorsey is officially a genius…” tweeted Browns defensive back Damarious Randall.
New Browns coach Freddie Kitchens now has another playmaker for Mayfield, the No1 overall pick last year who had a dazzling debut season in which he set the NFL record for touchdown passes by a rookie.
Kitchens will have to try to keep Beckham in check, something Giants coach Pat Shurmur struggled to do. Early last season, with the Giants off to another bad start, Beckham seemed upset with his role in Shurmur’s new offense and said quarterback Eli Manning was not capable of throwing deep passes. Mayfield and Beckham are already tight; they spent part of last summer working out in California with Landry, who has been campaigning since he arrived in Cleveland for his former college teammate to join him.
When news of the agreement broke, Mayfield posted a photo on Twitter of him shaking hands with Beckham. “Movement” was the caption.
The Giants now have three of the top 37 draft picks in April, and 12 overall. They have their eye on taking a franchise quarterback, perhaps Oklahoma Heisman Trophy Kyler Murray or Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Peppers, who is from New Jersey, will help fill the void left by Landon Collins’ departure to Washington. A first-round pick in 2017, he struggled as a rookie but bounced back and played well last season.