It was Jan. 2, 2019, when Dave Gettleman uttered the phrase that became cemented in his legacy. He was asked about Odell Beckham Jr. and the rumors swirling that the Giants intended to trade him, just four months after giving him a $95 million deal.
"We didn't sign him to trade him," the Giants GM said, "if that's what you're asking."
That wasn't exactly what he was being asked, of course, but it was a carefully constructed answer.
Then, 69 days later, Beckham was gone.
It has now been one year since the blockbuster trade that sent Beckham to the Cleveland Browns - part of a double deal that sent Beckham and defensive end Olivier Vernon to Cleveland for guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Jabrill Peppers, a 2019 first-round pick (17th) and a 2019 third (95th). The Giants have publicly and privately expressed no regrets at all, happy to be free of Beckham's contract and the circus that often surrounded him.
As for the Browns, by midseason there were already reports that they had tired of Beckham's gift for controversy and drama, and were considering dealing him again themselves.
Beckham is still a Brown (for now) and so is Vernon, though one report said he could end up being a salary cap casualty by next week. Meanwhile Zeitler and Peppers have become big pieces for the Giants' future. So has defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and linebacker Oshane Ximines, the two players Giants took with the Browns' picks.
Overall, this trade - which began as two trades that were later merged into one - still looks like a huge win for Gettleman and the Giants.
Here's a look at the deal, one year later, and piece by piece:
From the Giants to the Browns
WR Odell Beckham
The one-time superstar looked remarkably ordinary in his first year with the Browns, catching 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. He later said he was hurt most of the season and had surgery on a core muscle in January.
But his talent wasn't the reason the Giants dealt him anyway. They knowingly rolled their eyes as controversy followed Beckham in Year 1 with the Browns. He reportedly was telling opposing players "Get me out of here" during the season. He was apparently griping behind the scenes about the Browns training staff - gripes that QB Baker Mayfield eventually took public.
And who could forget his bizarre performance after LSU won the national championship when Beckham was handing out money to players - money he later claimed was fake - and taunted and slapped a police officer hard enough to draw an arrest warrant? That display and all the rest of the drama definitely reminded Giants brass why they were right to make that deal.
DE Olivier Vernon
In his first season with the Browns, the 29-year-old Vernon was exactly what the Giants thought he was when they traded him (which came right before they would've likely cut him). He was an injury-prone player who wasn't nearly as effective in the pass rush as he should've been for the money he was getting. Vernon played in only 10 games for the Browns and had just 3 ½ sacks - his lowest total since his rookie season. It's possible he'll be cut within the week.
From the Browns to the Giants
G Kevin Zeitler
The Giants line wasn't great, but the 6-4, 330-pound Zeitler was a strength and a stabilizing force. The 30-year-old's quiet work ethic was a great example for the young linemen, as was his toughness. He missed only one game while playing through shoulder and ankle injuries.
The Giants consider him, along with third-year guard Will Hernandez, building blocks on their under-construction line.
S Jabrill Peppers
The Giants loved Peppers way back in the 2017 NFL Draft and their feelings haven't changed. He didn't have the impact they wanted this season on what was a truly awful defense, but he's only 24 and he was beginning to play better and was emerging as an emotional leader when his season ended with a fractured back in Week 11. The Giants will likely pick up his fifth-year option in May, signaling their intention to build their secondary around him.
First-round pick (17th overall), used on DT Dexter Lawrence
Like so many on the Giants' defense, this 6-4, 342-pounder was more about promise than production. He played well as a rookie, though his impact was minimal. He could not fix the Giants' run defense alone and he had only 2 ½ sacks. The Giants expect more and believe they'll get more when he's got better players around him, but they certainly seem pleased with a player many believe they drafted far too high.
Third-round pick (95th overall), used on LB Oshane Ximines
It looked like a reach when the Giants took the first player ever drafted out of Old Dominion, so 2019 was always going to be a developmental season. And it was. Ximines struggled at times, flashed at others, in mostly limited play. He's still got a lot of growing to do, but he did have 4 ½ sacks as a rookie, which is a pretty good place to start.
The Giants had originally traded Vernon and a fourth-round pick (132nd) to the Browns for Zeitler and a fifth-rounder (155th) on March 8. When the Beckham trade was made four days later, the teams combined the deals and swapped those two picks back. That allowed the Giants to use that fourth-rounder (132nd) as part of a package to move back into the bottom of the first round where they selected CB DeAndre Baker. If they hadn't still had that pick, they might've had to use their other fourth-rounder (108th), which they instead used to select CB/S Julian Love.
With the fifth-rounder they got back (155th), the Browns drafted LB Mack Wilson, who ended up starting 14 games for them as a rookie.