A seismic trade broke Tuesday night, as the Giants reportedly have traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns for the 17th overall pick in the 2019 draft, a 2019 third-round pick and safety Jabril Peppers, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal obviously makes the Browns’ offense significantly better and the Giants’ offense significantly worse in 2019, as Beckham is one of the league’s top playmakers among skill players.
Beckham, who ranks second all-time in receiving yards per game with 92.8, could have been in line for more explosive numbers last year provided he had a better supporting cast with the Giants. The Giants’ poor offensive line combined with aging QB Eli Manning’s degrading play failed to let many plays develop downfield for Beckham.
Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network broke down some of the Giants’ problems throughout the year. Here’s a video shedding light on the inability of the Giants’ offense to let plays develop downfield on plays that Beckham was open, taken from Week 4 against the Saints:
Here, a bad snap combined with not enough time to throw takes a touchdown off the board after Beckham beats Jalen Ramsey in man coverage in Week 1:
.@Giants left too many points on the field Sunday. This should have been a layup. I am not here to place blame but anyone in that NYG locker room knows that this is a “gimme”. #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/67GM4Y4rrp— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 10, 2018
The Giants’ line often struggled with blocking four-man fronts, leaving more defenders in coverage, where opposing defenses were content to sit in a soft zone, making it difficult for Beckham to take the top off the defense. The offensive line often struggled with communication on basic defensive line stunts, most notably in their Week 2 matchup with the Cowboys, which can be seen on video here:
.@giants have MAJOR issues with basic assignment football and the fallout is affecting the Coach and the QB. There is ZERO trust that the protection will hold up in any given play. If you don’t think it can’t get worse…??? #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/5aZjs3IIfv— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 17, 2018
Manning’s lack of mobility in the pocket in avoiding pass rushers was also an issue, along with a broken internal clock from years of poor offensive line play that had him getting rid of the ball too quickly and not even looking at an open Beckham’s direction on some plays. Here’s Manning missing a wide-open Beckham in the middle of the field with space to run against the 49ers:
.@giants it’s so hard to understand what this offense is all about. I see guys wide open but they don’t get the football? It’s just the oddest thing to watch. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/ZKdP3EaH4z— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 15, 2018
Beckham will get out of an unappealing situation with the Giants and join a budding Browns offense led by stud young QB Baker Mayfield, a bright offensive coach in Freddie Kitchens, a strong second receiver in Jarvis Landry, a talented third-year tight end in David Njoku, a speedy WR in Antonio Callaway who can threaten to take the top off the defense and a backfield that features a two-man duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Beckham was often double- and even triple-teamed with the Giants, as he commanded the attention of corners, safeties and linebackers, and the Browns’ plethora of talent on offense could help soften the coverage he faces.
For the Browns’ passing game, a four-man receiving combo of Beckham, Landry, Callaway and Njoku is highly appetizing. Callaway recorded the 18th-fastest top speed among ball carriers last year, reaching 21.5 mph on a 47-yard touchdown in Week 2, per the league’s player tracking system. Callaway struggled with drops, but his high-end speed gives the Browns another weapon to stretch the field and take the top off the defense that opposing teams have to account for.
Njoku ranked fifth best among tight ends in outperforming his expected run after the catch, per the league’s player tracking system, which takes into account how open the receiver is and how many defenders are near him. Njoku’s most impressive play in outperforming his expected run after the catch came in Week 16, when racked off 63 yards after the catch despite having an expected yards after the catch of just 17, which ranked 16th best among receivers last year:
DAVID NJOKU’S GOT WHEELS! 👀 pic.twitter.com/5WSOOLvKW4— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 23, 2018
Chubb is a candidate to benefit from Beckham’s addition in the running game. Chubb saw eight men or more in the box on 34.4 percent of his carries last year, the fourth highest rate among all RBs to have at least 85 carries, per the league’s player tracking system. The addition of Beckham, who can take the top off the defense and commands the attention of safeties, could help soften the fronts Chubb faces. Despite facing stacked fronts at a high rate, Chubb still rushed for an efficient 5.2 yards per carry, better than the league average of 4.4 yards per carry.
And most of all, Mayfield, who has a chance to develop into one of the best QBs in the league, will lead an offense oozing with talent at the skill positions. After Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator, Mayfield’s production took off, posting an excellent 106.2 QB rating in eight games with Kitchens, up from a poor 78.9 in prior games and better than the 2018 league average QB rating of 92.9. Kitchens’ design helped keep Mayfield upright as well. Mayfield was sacked just five times in eight games under Kitchens after being sacked 20 times in six games — five starts — under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.
Mayfield already was primed to be a highly appealing fantasy QB heading into the 2019 season, and the addition of Beckham to the offense makes him one of the most exciting fantasy options at QB.
For the Giants, the loss of Beckham likely means Saquon Barkley takes on even more of a load in the offense. Barkley is an elite two-way threat out of the backfield with his excellent rushing and receiving skills, and he becomes the undisputed focal point of the offense with Beckham out of the picture. More target volume also will be available for Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, although the loss of Beckham’s gravity in commanding the attention of secondaries could hurt the space they receive.