New York Giants co-owner John Mara admitted Sunday that he was reluctant to sign off on the decision to trade wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns earlier this month.
“I will tell you that it was a reluctant approval on my part because I happen to like Odell very much,” Mara said from the NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix, his first public comments since the trade. “I recognize the unique talent that he has. It is not easy to trade that player to another team.
“I understand also that we have a lot of holes that we need to fill. If we make the right decisions with the pick and the pick, we obviously like Jabrill Peppers a lot, which filled a need for us. I ultimately gave my 50 percent share of the approval.”
The Browns sent the Giants their first-round pick (17th overall), a third-rounder and Peppers, who was drafted 25th overall in 2017, in return for Beckham. General manager Dave Gettleman told reporters last week that it was an offer he “couldn’t refuse,” despite his previous statement that the team did not sign Beckham to an extension only to trade him.
With a player of Beckham’s prominence — and less than a year removed from making him the NFL’s highest-paid wideout — the deal had to be approved by Mara and fellow co-owner Steve Tisch.
As Mara and Tisch recounted at a joint news conference Sunday, Gettleman called both men to relay news of the offer, and both had to think about it before ultimately deciding to go through with a deal.
“This was not a decision that was made quickly, without a lot of thought and a lot of conversation discussing with both Dave and [head coach Pat Shurmur] and the impact, what it would mean to the club,” Tisch said. “It is a tough decision. One of the toughest we have had to make in a long time. Many, many years.”
“It was not easy, that’s why it took this long,” Mara added. “It took a long time to come to grips with the fact that we were moving him to another team. I just didn’t think that was going to happen all winter. I think what we are getting in return will make us better if we make the right decisions.”
Mara also acknowledged that Beckham’s personality and tendency to make headlines for things not directly related to football played a small part in the decision.
“I had conversations with him about it, but it was never to the point where we said to Dave that he had to get rid of him,” Mara said. “It never reached that point. Was it a factor in the final decision? Yes, it is a factor. The thing about him, though, is that it never — he is a good guy. He did good things with us.”
Both owners wished Beckham well in Cleveland, but Mara admitted it will be difficult watching the former Giants first-round pick in another uniform.
“It is not going to be easy, I am not going to lie to you,” Mara said. “It won’t be easy. He is a great player and I hope he has a great career with the Browns. It makes it a little bit easier that he is not in our conference.”
—Field Level Media