While the free agency spending frenzy runs wild, the Giants and Browns found a way to overshadow it Tuesday night: a trade of Odell Beckham Jr.
New York is sending its star receiver to Cleveland for first- and second-round draft picks in April and safety Jabrill Peppers in the second blockbuster trade in four days. On Saturday, Pittsburgh sent unhappy wideout Antonio Brown to Oakland, a deal Brown forced.
Beckham is the NFL’s highest-paid receiver; he got a five-year, $90 million extension last August. He comes off two injury-plagued seasons, but when healthy is a game-breaking target, just like Brown.
The two trades become official Wednesday when the league’s business year begins. People with knowledge of the moves told The Associated Press of the trades, speaking anonymously because the transactions can’t be announced until after 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Beckham is known for his gravity-defying catches and breakaway skills, but also for being temperamental. He was suspended for one game in 2015 for his on-field battles with cornerback Josh Norman, then with Carolina.
Cleveland suddenly looks like a force in an AFC North in which both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have been weakened in the offseason. With Beckham reunited with receiver Jarvis Landry, a teammate at LSU, it gives quarterback Baker Mayfield two top targets. The Browns, who went 7-8-1 last season after not winning a game in 2017, haven’t made the playoffs since 2002.
The mega-trade came hours after another busy day of dealmaking.
The money flowed out of New Jersey, with the Jets agreeing Tuesday to contracts with three players: wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy, and linebacker C.J. Mosley. The team also will re-sign cornerback Darryl Roberts.
It streamed out of Green Bay, with the Packers getting deals with edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The Packers also cut veteran linebacker Nick Perry.
And it poured out of Oakland once more when the Raiders kept their vault open and agreed to a four-year contract with safety Lamarcus Joyner. The Raiders previously made big moves on offense by trading for Brown and agreeing to a deal with tackle Trent Brown.
Given the “legal tampering” freedom the league now allows for two days, well, let Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta describe the mayhem.
“Unfortunately for us, the market is irrational at times and we can’t be held responsible for what other teams want to pay,” DeCosta said. “All we can do is try to negotiate in good faith with agents and the players.”