New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman had two opportunities to squash all of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade speculation on Wednesday. He took neither.
During his public media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gettleman didn’t wait for the inevitable Beckham question. He addressed it in his opening statement:
“I’ll say this, it’s a repeat of what I said at my postseason presser: We didn’t sign Odell to trade him. OK? So I know that’s all over the place. So understand that. That’s all I need to say about that.”
During a private session a few minutes later with New York writers, the Beckham question was raised again. Pressed on why he wouldn’t put an end to the rumor mill Gettleman shushed an insistent questioner by raising a hand like a parent who had heard enough:
“Why is it my responsibility to eliminate that speculation?,” an annoyed Gettleman said. “You guys could say anything, get it cooking around the table and now I’ve gotta answer that.”
Our friends at the SB Nation flagship are wondering why the rumors just won’t die, despite how good Beckham is and that it’s only been one season since the Giants gave him a five-year, $90 million contract.
SB Nation’s Adam Stites is onto something, though, when he writes that the rumors are somewhat of a “self-inflicted wound” for Beckham following last year’s viral video with a model, a pizza and some stuff that looked like illegal substances and his ESPN interview with Josina Anderson in which he didn’t exactly sound thrilled to be a Giant.
Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports had this to say about the meaning of Gettleman’s unwillingness to put the kabosh on the rumors:
Translation: Hey, interested teams, it would take a ransom to get him, but keep calling. League sources indicated to me on Wednesday that the Giants are not averse to a Beckham trade -- even despite the massive hit they would incur -- and that coach Pat Shurmur has been at wits end on how to manage him. A trade is certainly not out of the question. In fact, sources have pointed to the 49ers and Raiders as the most likely strong suitors should this situation escalate. Stay tuned. Long offseason ahead.
So, what’s the deal?
First of all, sort of an aside. I will admit that I sort of enjoyed Gettleman’s hand-raising “shush” moment. I didn’t ask the question, so I’m entitled.
Now for the important stuff.
Gettleman spoke at length about character and distractions on Wednesday. His money quote:
“Talent sets the stage. Character sets the ceiling.”
Gettleman reminded that he has been a part of seven teams that participated in Super Bowls, three of those resulting in winning efforts. The common denominator?
“They all had great locker rooms.”
Gettleman and Shurmur went out of their way in 2018 to add character players to the Giants, to change what had been a losing culture. The GM indicated character will continue to be an important consideration in the roster-building process.
“I’m not saying you can never take a chance on a guy,” Gettleman said. “Part of the responsibility of a general manager is to eliminate distractions, allow players to play and coaches to coach.
“Unfortunately guys who have character issues create distractions.”
Gettleman did not say Beckham has character issues. Nor did he say Beckham can be a distraction. In the quote below that I’m about to give you he wasn’t calling Beckham a jerk. It wasn’t hard, though, to understand that Beckham — who isn’t a bad guy by any stretch of the imagination — is the one Giant who always seem to involved in some type of distraction.
“Think of the great players that you’ve seen around the league that have been just complete jerks,” Gettleman said. “At the end of the day what was the sum total of their career and their effect on their teams?”
No one is saying Beckham is a jerk, or wanting him to become one. No one is saying his career won’t amount to what it should, at least in terms of postseason glory.
Shurmur went out of his way to build a relationship with Beckham before last season, and there can be no doubt that the ESPN interview damaged that relationship. LaCanfora wrote that Shurmur is “at wit’s end” in dealing with Beckham. The coach, though, said Wednesday that his relationship with the star receiver is “good. It’s solid.”
Maybe it is. Let’s hope it is.
It seems, though, that the relationship between Beckham and the Giants is a fragile one.
It isn’t hard to believe what Gettleman said about not wanting to endlessly have to put the end to whatever rumors the media can come up with. It also isn’t hard, though, to believe that the GM is keeping his options open. He wants options. In the event something happens and Beckham goes Antonio Brown on the Giants, Gettleman is leaving himself room to make a move without saying he went back on his word.
Even if he won’t say any of that, either.