The ball was firmly placed in Odell Beckham's court two weeks ago when the Giants fanned the flames of the rumors that their star might be traded. They meant it mostly as a warning shot, and what they wanted was a sign that he was committed to being the player and person they wanted him to be.
Now they have it -- at least a small one -- with the news that Beckham will be in town on Monday for at least the first day of the Giants' voluntary offseason program.
And maybe -- just maybe -- this will be the re-start of the beautiful and lucrative long-term relationship they both seem to want to have.
There's a long way to go, of course, and since this is Odell Beckham there will surely be many more strange twists and turns. But for now this is a very good start that might even turn down the rhetoric a notch. It will be hard now, for example, for GM Dave Gettleman to talk about the need to "eliminate distractions" when talking about Beckham's future, if Beckham is showing a willingness to show up, exactly as the team wanted him to do.
Now, no doubt a one-day commitment is far different than a commitment of one month or one entire offseason program -- and no one seems certain exactly how long Beckham will stay. There's a chance that his arrival on Monday will turn out to be largely symbolic, and he'll back working out on his own in Los Angeles next week.
But the symbolism matters. It certainly matters to the Giants. Showing up even for one day is at least a chance for him to talk to the coaches face to face, to let the doctors check his progress from ankle surgery for themselves, to be around his teammates, even for a little while.
It's a sign that he's willing to accept the guidelines the new regime has laid down for their off-the-field expectations. It's a sign that despite everything that's happened over the last few weeks, he still wants to be part of the program and the team.
And maybe it's even a sign that reports of a potentially ugly holdout were premature - which they almost certainly were. Beckham is due $8.5 million this season and he's not crazy enough to put that at risk by holding out into the season. As for the report that said he won't set foot on a field until he gets a new contract extension - well, coming off ankle surgery just six months ago, no one has said yet when he'll even be cleared to set foot on a field.
Had he decided not to show up Monday, though, that surely would've added fuel to that fire, raising speculation that a "holdout" had already begun - regardless of the fact workouts are technically "voluntary". Now that's off the table as a topic at least until the Giants' mandatory full-team minicamp in mid-June.
Really, though, that "holdout" threat is just part of what former Giants GM Jerry Reese used to refer to as "chatter" or "noise". Lots of players ponder holdouts. Lots of agents threaten them (usually as an anonymous source). But players almost never hold out, especially not into the season, especially when there are millions of dollars on the table that could be in their bank.
We'll see if Beckham decides to go that route, but for now, good for him, not making a bad situation worse. He could've been hurt by the Giants' refusal to commit to him being on the 2018 team, or their stubborn and misguided refusal to not completely squelch any trade talk. He could've stayed away or spoken out. He could've essentially called their bluff.
Instead, he will take the high road, at least for a day, and his bosses in the Giants organization should take note. No, it doesn't mean a long-term, $100 million contract extension is imminent. The Giants still want to make sure he's the same, dangerous player after ankle surgery than he was before. And they are absolutely mindful -- or even wary -- that the next nuisance controversy or viral video involving Beckham could be lurking around the proverbial corner next week.
But until that happens, they should grasp this as a sign that they can work with Beckham, that he's a player worth keeping and that this is a relationship worth saving.
And after several weeks of unbelievably being open to the unthinkable -- trading the best offensive player they've ever had -- they should see it as an opportunity to change the narrative. Maybe it's possible Beckham won't contour to be a "distraction" that needs to be eliminated".
Maybe it's a sign -- a very small sign -- that Beckham is at least willing to try to be the star on and off the field that the Giants have always hoped he would be.