It has been nearly three weeks since John Mara fired the starting pistol on the Odell Beckham, Jr. frenzy when he refused to commit to him being on the 2018 roster. Since then, the saga has taken dozens of turns -- some absurd, and some entirely predictable.
And the reports on whether he'll be traded or not just won't stop.
But Beckham is still on the Giants and still with no long-term contract. The only thing that's changed is that he showed up for the first day of the offseason program on Monday, which the Giants seemed to take as a very positive sign. And that's all the Giants wanted all along -- a sign that he was willing to be committed to their program.
He is no more on or off the trading block than he was several weeks ago. Nothing has changed.
That said, since this is a story that just won't go away, here's another look at where things currently stand, based on interviews with Giants owners Mara and Steve Tisch, GM Dave Gettleman, coach Pat Shurmur, and multiple team and league sources familiar with this story.
There's been plenty of fiction circulating with this mess for nearly a month, albeit with more than a few kernels of truth to sustain it. Here are the actual facts and a sane interpretation of what they mean:
- So, was Beckham ever really on the trading block? Yes and no. Mostly no. It's semantics, really. Yes, Mara declared loudly "He's not on the block," but he didn't declare him "off" the block either. He said the Giants would listen to offers. The truth is they were listening and they were willing to consider it if the price was right.
- Is he still on the block? Again, the answer is yes and no, but a lot more no than yes. Until they sign him to a new contract, they will undoubtedly listen if teams call.But there's no indication that anyone has called with a serious offer.
- Were the Los Angeles Rams interested? Yes. Clearly. I mean, they just traded for Brandin Cooks, so obviously they were looking for a receiver, and a source confirmed they did call the Giants. That source also said there were never any actual "talks" - or at least nothing "serious". They called, the Giants gave them an idea of how high the price would be, and that was pretty much that.
- Are any other teams interested? Sure. In fact, one team source said several teams called to see if the Giants were serious about trading Beckham. But to what extent was anyone really interested? Once teams heard the Giants were looking for a lot in return for a receiver with plenty of baggage, coming off ankle surgery, and looking for a $100 million contract, their interest almost surely waned. That said, if you're convinced he still will be traded, keep an eye on the San Francisco 49ers who have the cap room, the ammunition to acquire him, and possibly the desire to find a No. 1 receiver for new quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. It's hard to think of any other team that makes sense.
- Why are teams calling? The latest viral video - the one with the woman, the pepperoni pizza and the possible drugs - appears to be the catalyst. No, it's not the first nuisance controversy surrounding Beckham. But keep in mind, since Gettleman and Shurmur took over, they've made it clear they want Beckham to start behaving before they pay him. Knowing that, some teams - like the Rams - probably saw the video as an opportunity. And unlike in years past when they might have called to see if Beckham was available, this time the Giants didn't laugh.
- Would the Giants really trade him? It's hard to imagine they would. And it remains "highly unlikely," according to a highly placed team source. No one can rule out the possibility that they'd be blown away with an offer they can't refuse. But trading him - at least for now - is clearly not something they want to do.
- What would blow them away? It really depends on the team. They'd want high draft picks, including first-rounders, but where they are in the round would matter. And maybe a team could add a player, too, but then cap ramifications would come into play, and whether that player is signed long-term. There are a lot of factors.
- So, did they set an asking price? Again, it's semantics, but no, not really. How could they? There was a report that they wanted two first-round picks, but there's a big difference - for example - between the Browns' two first-rounders (No. 1 and No. 4), the Bills' two first-rounders (at No. 12 and No. 22), and the Patriots' two first-rounders (now No. 23 and No. 31). Undoubtedly when the Rams called, the Giants told them what it might take, and maybe it was two first-round picks. My guess is that was only the starting point. Regardless, it surely would be different for every team.
- Why won't the Giants shut down the circus? Because they really are near their breaking point with Beckham and these nuisance controversies, and Gettleman is intent on cleaning up what he viewed as a locker room that wasn't exactly all-in last season. This is and was all about getting Beckham's attention, and letting him know that they're serious this time and intend to do what the previous regime didn't - hold him accountable for his behavior. Also, if the frenzy drummed up another offer or two, that's fine. There's always the possibility someone gets crazy. But mostly they want Beckham to understand they mean business, and to see what he does next.
- So what comes next? Well, the big thing was his attendance at the offseason workout program, which happened just as he promised Shurmur it would. He's not likely to stay there, and since he's presumably still not able to practice fully, he likely won't even be at the Giants' voluntary mini-camp in two weeks. So the new moment to watch is June 12, which is the first day of the Giants' mandatory, full-team, three-day mini-camp. Looming over that is an NFL Network report that Beckham is going to refuse to step on a football field again until he gets a new contract. He might not be cleared to practice by then anyway, so it might be a moot point. But if he doesn't show up for that mandatory camp, then strap in because that means the holdout threat is real and the frenzy will continue. Who knows what Gettleman will do if he's pushed...
- If he's traded, when would it happen? Presumably, right before the draft. If the Giants are going to deal their best player, they're going to want to be able to replace him immediately. That's why they'd need a high pick or picks in this draft. Future picks are valuable, but they don't help them for 2018. Accepting mostly future picks would pretty much make them liars if they then say they're still trying to "win now."
- So if he's not traded by Draft Day, he'll be on the team in 2018? Probably, but a post-draft trade can't be completely ruled out. It just might need a catalyst. Remember 2008, when there were rumors the Giants were trying to deal a disgruntled (and troublesome) Jeremy Shockey, but they ultimately didn't? Well, about six weeks after the draft, Shockey refused to participate in the Giants' mandatory mini-camp, and even got into a shouting match in the locker room with then-GM Jerry Reese. Things got bad, and even an intervention by Mara couldn't diffuse the situation. So, on July 21, just before training camp started, the Giants shipped Shockey to the Saints. The second- and fifth-round picks they got in the 2009 draft obviously didn't help them in 2008, but they had reached their breaking point and had to do something. If the Beckham standoff turns into a feud and gets ugly? Sure, anything can happen.
- Best guess: Will he or won't he be traded? He won't be. And I'm basing that on what Mara and Tisch said, and the way they said it. There's also new offensive coordinator Mike Shula calling him "a vital part" of the offense, and what I've heard from sources all along. Also, common sense suggests other teams aren't going to pay a high price for a player coming off ankle surgery who also wants a $100 million deal, possibly before he steps on a field. Could another team offer a crazy deal? Sure. Could the Giants get so frustrated they just want to get rid of him? Maybe. Is either of those likely to happen? I don't think so.
- But if he is traded …?: Look, this isn't the Shockey situation, where few in the organization - including teammates like his quarterback -- were sad to see him go. Teammates love Beckham, mostly. They know he's as good a weapon as any in the league. They know they're better with him on the field. Players won't be happy if he's traded. And if he is, the next time the Giants say they're trying to win now, feel free to laugh.