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What the Odell Beckham trade means for the Giants

To be honest, that’s what we are all trying to figure out

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

What does the New York Giants stunning Tuesday trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns mean? Right now that is what everyone — fans, media, everyone — is attempting to process.

As Patricia Traina has often said, she never believed Beckham would finish his five-year contract as a member of the Giants. Neither did I, there have just been too much controversy, too much chatter, too many reports. I just didn’t think this divorce was coming now.

Giants GM Dave Gettleman has leaned hard into a couple of conflicting mantras since he took over the job. One is that you don’t give up on talent. Another is that a general manager’s job is to eliminate distractions.

I guess now we know which one of those he puts a bigger emphasis on.

The recent round of Beckham rumors began a few weeks ago with Jay Glazer of The Athletic boldly predicting the Giants would trade Beckham this offseason. They continued right through Tuesday even though reporters like Kim Jones of NFL Network said they didn’t believe the Giants were trying to trade the superstar wide receiver.

As of Monday, that was also the impression I had been given. Teams were sniffing around Beckham, but the Giants were supposedly not actively soliciting offers. There was, though, a feeling that the right offer could convince the Giants to move on.

Apparently, the 17th and 96th picks, along with a 23-year-old starting safety was the right offer in the eyes of the Giants.

Beckham doesn’t apparently know what to think.

That makes him like the rest of us.

Why now?

As I said above, I expected this day to come. Despite all of the storm clouds, though, I guess I really didn’t believe it was coming now. I figured the Giants, continuing to forge ahead with Eli Manning at quarterback, would make one more effort at making peace off the field and succeeding on it with Beckham.

Didn’t happen, as we know.

Go back to when Pat Shurmur was hired. He went out of his way to build a relationship with Beckham, even visiting with him in Los Angeles. Beckham played nice before he got his contract, even showing up for voluntary workouts.

Despite anything Beckham and Shurmur said, though, the coach-player relationship was heavily damaged when Beckham went on ESPN and, in an interview with Josina Anderson, failed to support Eli Manning and hinted that he wasn’t really sure he liked New York all that much.

Was it irreconcilably damaged? No. In the end, though, Gettleman, Shurmur and Giants’ ownership has decided to end the Beckham chapter of Giants history. The Giants moved on from Beckham while they could do on their terms, before the situation deteriorated and the Giants found themselves facing an Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers fiasco.

My e-mail inbox and the @BigBlueView Twitter DM’s are filling up with “Gettleman blew it” by getting such a light return for Beckham comments. Adam Stites of SB Nation is lambasting the general manager for repeating the personnel mistakes that got him relieved of his duties as GM of the Carolina Panthers.

Ultimately, Gettleman drove stakes between the franchise and talented players too often, and he didn’t draft well enough to restock the roster.

Gettleman says he wants to leave a legacy like his mentor Ernie Accorsi did by landing Manning in 2004. There’s still time for him to do that, but for now, it’s hard to figure out his plan.

The Giants letting Collins walk in free agency raised eyebrows. Trading Beckham should sound alarms that Gettleman’s repeating his Carolina history in New York.

Is that true?

Gettleman has now traded away Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison, Eli Apple, Olivier Vernon and Beckham. He let Landon Collins walk away in free agency a few days ago. He watched highly-drafted offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg leave in free agency last offseason. Throw in letting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Devon Kennard leave, too, if you must.

What everyone really wants to know is what is Gettleman’s plan? Traina and I spent a good chunk of a Sunday point-counterpoint on that question.

Before the Beckham news broke, after the Giants had signed geriatric safety Antoine Bethea as a safety stop-gap, I thought I was beginning to see where Gettleman was going.

It is important to remember that the Giants have largely been bad since 2012. All of the players I mentioned above, most of them very well paid, didn’t make the Giants a good team. Except for 2016, which proved to be an aberration. The Giants are 31-49 in Beckham’s five regular seasons with one blowout playoff loss.

I think Gettleman is playing the long game here. He said at the Combine that he hates the word “rebuilding.” He would much rather say he and the Giants are “moving forward.”

It is hard to deny, though, that it seems like they are rebuilding. Getting rid of highly-paid players, or players about to be highly paid. Stockpiling draft choices. Perhaps angling to add a couple of 2020 compensatory picks.

Something else Gettleman said at the Combine that was important to remember is that “we’re not done.” Turns out they were just getting started.

They are rebuilding. Even if Gettleman says they aren’t. They now have two first-round picks, sixth and 17th. They have 12 picks total in the upcoming draft.

The Giants are letting go of a past that just didn’t work. Even the popular, talented, productive pieces of that past. It’s hard to understand. It’s emotional. They are, though, trying to build a better future.

Whether they can remains to be seen.

But, the Giants still have a 38-year-old quarterback

Yes, they do. At least today. Eli Manning is still the quarterback. I am absolutely convinced that the Giants are, in Gettleman’s words, watching film until their eyes bleed, trying to find a young successor to Manning’s throne as the franchise quarterback.

Will that come in this draft? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m still not convinced the organization is sold on Dwayne Haskins, or any of the quarterbacks in this class, but with two first-round picks now they have more ability to maneuver if they choose to.

To be honest, I’m suddenly interested in March 17, when the Giants are due to pay Manning a $5 million roster bonus.

Will they? We’ll see.

The only thing we know for sure — and he proved it again today — is that whether the reconstruction of the Giants succeeds or fails Gettleman is going to do it the way he believes it should be done.

Like it or not.