Beckham's trade to the Browns may've drastically transformed the entire balance of power in the NFL.
It's rare that a single trade facilitates such a massive shift of power in the NFL.
It's the NFL, after all. If it's not the ultimate team sport, it's at the very least in the running for that lofty crown. Considering that there are approximately 22 specialized players that occupy specific roles on either offense or defense, not to mention special teams players, a change at a single one of those positions is unlikely to make or break a team.
And yet, in the case of Odell Beckham, Jr. and his new employer , the Cleveland Browns, this may very well depart from the norm.
When the New York Giants traded Beckham to the oft-maligned Browns, the football world was shocked. OBJ, as he is colloquially called, was New York's best player , and especially so in past seasons that had seen the club go 6-10 (2015), 3-13 (2017), and 5-11 (2018). In fact, until rookie running back Saquon Barkley showed up last season, there was no dispute that the most electrifying talent on Big Blue's roster was the LSU product.
But in an offseason that has seen Giants GM Dave Gettleman make a series of head scratching moves , including letting safety Landon Collins (now of the Washington Redskins) walk in free agency and continuing to keep quarterback Eli Manning on the payroll, the OBJ trade has to make the least sense.
Gettleman has been essentially pegged as saying that the Giants are both rebuilding and competing now providing a confusing and frankly conflicting narrative that doesn't seem to be doing the team any favors. They traded away OBJ and defensive end Olivier Vernon (also to Cleveland, although in a separate trade) only to pick up guard Kevin Zeitler and a third-year safety in Jabrill Peppers who has two interceptions to his name , as well as an aging veteran wide receiver in Golden Tate via free agency.
As their Super Bowl XLII and XLVI wins grow increasingly distant, the direction of the franchise continues to be one of compounded chaos.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns are winners. Big time.
As outlined by FiveThirtyEight , the WAR (wins above replacement) total of a player of OBJ's caliber is 2 per year…so long as he's healthy. Peppers, in comparison, has a 0.53 WAR total over the course of his career. The exact value of the Giants' side of the deal will be revealed more concretely in the upcoming NFL draft, as they received the 17 th and 95 th overall picks in exchange for Beckham.
While first-round picks are valuable, they are far from a sure thing.
And surety was surely what Browns GM John Dorsey was looking for. Reuniting Beckham with his former LSU teammate in Jarvis Landry, the Browns receiving corps suddenly seems among the best of the best. Add to that rookie of the year runner up in quarterback Baker Mayfield (who now holds the record for most touchdown passes by a rookie QB) and stellar running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (who will be suspended for the first eight games of the season) and its pretty clear why this new Browns team is only half-jokingly being called "The Avengers" by the NFL community.
With the Beckham trade, the Browns have moved from 25-1 odds to win the Super Bowl to 14-1. Such numbers put them ahead of the Bears, Colts, Chargers, Texans, Ravens, and Eagles, all of which made the wildcard round of the playoffs last year. Meanwhile, the Giants have tumbled from 40-1 to 80-1 odds.
Of course, winning the offseason far from guarantees the same outcome for the regular. While Gettleman's decision to stick with the 38-year-old Manning and dump his talented (yet often cantankerous) receiving star may seem like lunacy now, but with an arm that has beat Tom Brady on football's biggest stage twice, it's not impossible to imagine a return to form. And certainly, despite their 7-8-1 record from last year , it's every bit as possible that the Browns fall back into the ignominy that granted them only one win in more than two calendar years.
And yet, given the diverging paths of these two teams, none of that seems very likely.