The dust has officially settled on one of the most highly publicized NFL trades in recent memory. Odell Beckham Jr. is poised to join a new team upon his release from the Browns, who in March of 2019 acquired the three-time Pro Bowl receiver via trade with the New York Giants. The move was lauded in Cleveland and largely criticized in New York, where Beckham starred for five seasons.
In exchange for Beckham, the Giants received strong safety Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks that became first-round defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and third-round pass rusher Oshane Ximines. Here's a look at how those players have fared:
Giants: Jabrill Peppers
A 2017 first-round pick, Peppers has been a full-time starter during his two-plus seasons in New York. In 32 games with the Giants, Peppers has tallied 196 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and 17 passes defensed. His 2021 came to a premature end when he suffered season-ending knee and ankle injuries in the Giants' Week 7 win over the Panthers.
Giants: Dexter Lawrence
The 17th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Lawrence recorded 91 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 31 starts during his first two seasons in New York. And while he has started in only four of the Giants' first nine games this season, Lawrence continues to be a solid contributor on New York's defensive line. He was Pro Football Focus' second highest-graded Giants player during the team's Week 9 win over the Raiders.
Giants: Oshane Ximines
Ximines has returned this season from a torn rotator cuff injury that prematurely ended his 2020 season. In eight games this season, Ximines has made 12 tackles with three pass breakups. His best remains remains his first, when he recorded 4.5 sacks in 16 games (with two starts). Ximines has lost playing time this season to rookie Azeez Ojulari, who is currently tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks.
Now let's take a look at how Beckham has fared since the trade:
Beckham's stint with the Browns
While the Giants acquired three solid yet unspectacular players, the Browns clearly did not get the production and overall experience they were hoping for when they traded for Beckham. While he went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark in 2019, the Browns went just 6-10 (following a 7-8-1 season) during Beckham's first season in Cleveland. Beckham was also involved in several drama-filled stories centered on whether he was openly lobbing for a trade during postgame handshakes with players from opposing teams. Beckham said late in the season that he had no desire to play elsewhere.
Beckham and the Browns had a much quieter 2020 offseason. With the drama temporarily behind them, Beckham and the Browns went 5-2 to start the 2020 season. But he suffered a torn ACL against the Bengals that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Without Beckham, the Browns finished the regular season with an 11-5 record. The Browns then recorded their first playoff win in 26 years before bowing out to the Chiefs in the divisional round.
With Beckham still working his way back from his 2020 injury, the Browns split their first two games of the 2021 season with Beckham sidelined. He made his season debut in Week 3, where he caught five of nine targets for 77 yards in Cleveland's 26-6 win over Chicago. But Beckham's production tailed off after that. He caught a combined four passes for 47 yards in the Browns' next two games. He put up a solid stat line of five catches for 79 yards in Cleveland's Week 6 loss to the Cardinals. He suffered a shoulder injury in that game that limited his practice availability for the next two weeks.
Despite being in obvious pain, Beckham played and caught two passes during the Browns' Week 7 win over Denver. He had just one catch for six yards in Cleveland's Week 8 loss to the Steelers in what was his final game as a Brown.
The Browns had a 14-15 record with Beckham in the starting lineup. Including the playoffs, the Browns were 9-5 in games without Beckham. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was clearly better in games without Beckham. It is likely not a coincidence that one of Mayfield's best games as a pro came two days after the Browns announced that they would be parting ways with Beckham.
While it's hard to call either team a winner, the Giants appeared to be the team that benefitted more from the trade. That being said, the Beckham experience may not have been a total failure in Cleveland, as the Browns have realized that less is sometimes more when it comes to building winning teams.