One of the most high-profile NFL trades of all time sent Dallas Cowboys running Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in a landscape-shifting move that effectively launched the Cowboys into their dynasty of the 1990s. Late Tuesday night, the New York Giants laid all their cards on the table hoping for similar luck as they parted ways with the franchise’s best player.
The Giants traded All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in return for two draft picks — one in the first round and another in the third — plus safety Jabrill Peppers, the 25th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. You read that right: THOSE Cleveland Browns just landed arguably the best wide receiver in football, and it was only part of an incredible day that changed everything we thought we knew about the once-laughed-at franchise.
The OBJ deal was first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and later confirmed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Both of the picks are for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and includes the No. 17 overall pick this year.
By dealing OBJ, the Giants now have two selections in the top 20 picks (numbers 6 and 17), a future Pro Bowl safety and return specialist in Peppers, and are back to the drawing board with arguably their best offensive weapon heading to the AFC North.
While the Giants hit reset on their franchise and effectively wave goodbye to the Eli Manning days in the Big Apple, the Cleveland Browns have themselves geared up to make serious noise over the next few seasons.
The most notable part of this trade is reuniting OBJ with his former LSU Tigers teammate Jarvis Landry, who signed a five-year, $75 million contract last year after Cleveland acquired him in a trade from the Miami Dolphins. In their first five NFL seasons, this tandem has combined for 871 catches, 10,490 receiving yards and 70 touchdown catches.
Good luck stopping that…
Quarterback Baker Mayfield flashed brilliance during his rookie season. Running back Nick Chubb proved he’s a workhorse who could easily become the league’s top rusher before his career is done. Third-year man David Njoku was a first-round pick in 2017 and is becoming one of the NFL’s best pass-catching tight ends. They were already in place for new head coach Freddie Kitchens, but Cleveland’s front office wasn’t satisfied.
Earlier this offseason, Cleveland made headlines by signing former Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt to a contract. If he’s cleared to play by the NFL, the Browns have two of the best ball carriers in the league on the same roster.
On top of all that, the Browns bolstered their defense by signing the 13th overall pick in 2013 — defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson — and traded for 2018 Pro Bowl linebacker Olivier Vernon the day before. They already have former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, lockdown cornerback in Denzel Ward coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season, and linebacker Joe Schobert, whose 245 total tackles over the last two seasons are the fourth-most in the NFL.
Cleveland just fast-tracked their resurgence with elite NFL talent. If it all comes together next season, we might be looking at the start of a serious threat in the AFC, and maybe even a Super Bowl contender for a team once considered the proverbial door mat in the National Football League.
It’s still early, but all of these moves signal one thing to me: Browns General Manager John Dorsey falls somewhere between a certified genius and a World Series of Poker champion for pulling all of this together, and the Beckham trade could go down as one of the greatest hustles in NFL history, especially if New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman flops on his draft picks.
Get ready, NFL fans. As strange as it is to say, the Cleveland Browns are primed to be one of the NFL’s best teams for the foreseeable future.