It's been an exceedingly active year already for NFL trades. But there's one blockbuster deal that has not happened, and it should be on the Giants’ radar.
That would be a trade of the highly talented-but-equally problematic Odell Beckham Jr.
If I'm new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, I'm saying "no mas" to OBJ's exorbitant contract demands and to his diva-like behavior. Before shelling out $17 million, $18 million or more per year for the star wide receiver, I'm putting out feelers to gauge his trade value.
And if I can get a first-round pick and another high choice, I'm sending him packing.
NFL FREE AGENCY 2018:
Winners, losers of open market
It's never easy for a GM to trade an elite player. I understand that having made plenty of high-profile trades in my GM days. When Beckham is healthy, focused and on his game, he is one of the NFL's best receivers. He averaged 96 catches, 1,374 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns per season over his first three years in the league before a broken ankle and the ensuing surgery cost him the final 12 games of last season.
But GMs, coaches and long-time owners such as John Mara also don't like distractions, and Beckham is among the league leaders in headline-grabbing incidents on and off the field.
There was the infamous Miami boat trip prior to a playoff game in which he played poorly and then punched in a locker room wall. There have been selfish on-field battles with cornerback Josh Norman and fines for blind-side hits. There are obnoxious touchdown celebrations. There was last year's ridiculous rant that he should be the NFL's highest-paid player regardless of position, surpassing top quarterbacks.
Then there's the most recent viral video, of Beckham lying in bed, appearing to hold a brown cigarette with a woman next to him with a white substance on a plate — cringe-worthy stuff for New York, including new coach Pat Shurmur, and for Beckham's agent during the negotiating process.
For the immature and media-hungry Beckham, it's just more fuel for his oversized ego.
As a GM, I'd have a hard time paying Beckham elite wide receiver money to put him at or above Antonio Brown's $17 million per year or even Mike Evans' $16.5 million per year. Making matters worse: It will be a battle to get him to sign an extension at those numbers when he has $20 million or more per year on his wish list.
Gettleman and the Giants can try to postpone an extension by forcing Beckham to play out the option year of his rookie, first-round contract at around $8.5 million. That likely would lead to Beckham skipping the Giants' offseason program and OTAs as well as a possible training camp holdout — not a good situation for a player coming off major ankle surgery. The team also could franchise tag him after the upcoming season, which would lead to more Le'Veon Bell-type acrimony.
NFL FREE AGENCY:
Best players still available
For a proud franchise like Big Blue trying to rebound from a disastrous 3-13 season, obtaining a boat-load (pardon the pun) of draft picks in return for OBJ would be a smart play. The team has plenty of holes to fill on the league's second-worst defense statistically, not to mention an offensive line that struggled in the run game and at times in pass protection.
There's no doubt Beckham can be productive in Shurmur's offensive system that was so effective for the Vikings last season (without a $20 million-per-year receiver). But Beckham also could be a major headache with his contract, his love of the limelight and his often poor decision-making on and off the field.
That's the juggling act a team faces with a player such as Beckham. Is he worth the drama he invariably brings? You're hoping he changes his M.O., but that might not happen until several years down the road. It’s hard to see him changing now as a 25-year old who clearly likes to party and hang out with celebs.
If the Giants do decide to give Beckham a rich extension, they surely will seek to include stringent clauses in the contract that will require Beckham to give back signing bonus money if he is suspended for any reason.
But Gettleman strikes me as an old-school GM who doesn't want to put up with Beckham's nonsense. Mara probably has had his fill of Beckham, too. And Shurmur would love to see more depth added to the roster with a few extra draft picks.
The Giants also are tight against the cap after recent investments on free-agent signings such as Nate Solder on offense. They've spent even more on the defense, with huge contracts for Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and the re-signing of Jason Pierre-Paul. They also recently traded for a $10 million-per-year linebacker in Alec Ogletree.
Gettleman might be looking to duplicate the formula he used to build Carolina into a Super Bowl team with Cam Newton and a powerhouse defense leading the way. Expensive wide receivers were never part of the Panthers way under Gettleman.
NFL FREE AGENCY:
Grading Giants' notable moves
For Gettleman to find a trade partner, it will take a willing team with enough cap room and more than enough patience. A fit could be a team such as the Rams, who let Sammy Watkins leave in free agency and might want to add some Hollywood-type sizzle as they approach the opening of their new stadium in 2020.
But will they or another team be willing to pay the double whammy of a high price in trade compensation and the big-money contract? There will need to be an extension in place before a team gives up high draft picks for Beckham, as it won't want to risk him hitting free agency in 2019 or have to deal with the acrimony of the franchise tag. It's not going to be easy to pull it all together and move Beckham.
The good news for the Giants is there always are NFL GMs and coaches who believe they can keep a player like OBJ productive on the field and under control off the field.
If I'm Gettleman, I'm hoping that's the case.
Jeff Diamond is a former president of the Titans and former vice president/general manager of the Vikings. He was selected NFL Executive of the Year in 1998. Diamond is currently a business and sports consultant who also does broadcast and online media work. He makes speaking appearances to corporate/civic groups and college classes on Negotiation and Sports Business/Sports Management. He is the former chairman and CEO of The Ingram Group. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffdiamondNFL.