EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Make no mistake about this as the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns completed a stunning blockbuster trade Tuesday night. These are two teams headed in starkly unfamiliar and different directions.
The perennial loser Browns are the team on the rise with the hotshot young quarterback who looked on the verge of greatness even without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Now Baker Mayfield has Beckham, and the future looks even brighter.
The once-proud Giants are now the team with eight wins in two years and a roster that indicates it's not going to get much better in the immediate future. They are in a position quite familiar to the Browns -- desperately in need of a savior quarterback and a complete rebuild.
If this trade did anything for the Giants, it made them pick a side. There is no more straddling the line of restocking on the fly or trying to compete. They saw what happened last season (5-11) when they chose the latter. The Giants are now rebuilding, even if it's a year too late.
It raises so many questions, such as: Why didn't they go in this direction last year with a new head coach, new general manager, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and a 37-year-old quarterback coming off a 3-13 season? Why didn't they trade Beckham before signing him to a then-record deal for a wide receiver? Now, the Giants wasted a year and will incur a $16 million dead money hit this season adding to their already substantial total. They also paid Beckham $21.5 million for 12 games last season. And, finally, is GM Dave Gettleman really the right man to be tasked with this massive overhaul?
That is quite a sales pitch Gettleman must have presented to owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. Sorry about botching it last year, boss, but we need to trade the most explosive playmaker this once-proud organization has ever seen. Probably not an easy one to execute. But he did.
Gettleman and the Giants surely had their reasons. Beckham butted heads with management on several occasions last year, once when he participated in an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson and Lil Wayne, and again when he talked too much publicly about his quad injury. And maybe there was more. But Beckham was a player loved in the locker room and with an unquestioned work ethic. He was a difference-maker when he was on the field. Now, he's gone and the masses don't seem pleased. The reaction to their franchise isn't going to be an easy one for ownership to stomach.
Gettleman received a first-round pick (No. 17 overall), third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers in return for Beckham. Peppers was a key. The Giants insisted he should be part of the deal, according to a source. He was a first-round pick two years ago and they viewed him as such. It helped them close this often controversial chapter in their history, which was filled with more noise than victories.
But the snap-response to it all was not so positive for Gettleman and the Giants. Sources around the league texted me reactions such as "Maybe if the [first-round pick] was higher" and "Seriously?" and "That is nothing." They didn't see the tremendous value for such a special talent.
And just like that, a transcendent player is gone before ever winning a playoff game with the team that drafted him No. 12 overall five years ago.
All that Gettleman talk about how "you don't give up on talent" has turned into bunk. The rhetoric about how they "didn't sign Odell to trade him" proved worthless. Gettleman and the Giants shifted gears seven months after signing Beckham to that massive contract.
It leaves them in need of an overhaul. Their defense is missing pass-rushers, a cover linebacker and cornerbacks. They no longer have a No. 1 receiver to command the attention of the opposition on the outside. More than anything, they don't have the pillar quarterback around whom to build. It's a position the Giants haven't been in since well before Eli Manning arrived in 2004.
Then again, there are lots of unfamiliar things going on in East Rutherford. Their franchise hasn't been in this much flux in decades.