Two high-profile and outspoken wide receivers may be on their way out of the NFC East in 2018, as the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. and the Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant have dominated NFL rumors in recent weeks. Beckham may be headed out west in a trade, while Bryant and his hefty salary may be expendable in a crowded Cowboys receiving unit.
According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the San Francisco 49ers have joined the Los Angeles Rams in showing interest in Beckham. La Canfora listed the Seattle Seahawks along with the Cleveland Browns as “contenders” for Beckham.
Should the Giants deal Beckham it will almost certainly mean that they would acquire draft picks. The Giants reportedly want two first-round picks, but ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that if the Giants pull the trigger on a Beckham deal, it would likely net them a first and third-or-fourth-round pick.
There appears to be plenty of incentive to trade Beckham. The 25-year-old could hold out if not given a new contract, he might not be as effective as he was before his ankle injury and his off-the-field antics may not be tolerated under new head coach Pat Shurmur. Some feel that the recent viral video that featured Beckham near a substance that may have been drugs could have been the last straw for New York.
The Rams, who reportedly have talked to the Giants about Beckham, might be the frontrunners. Los Angeles has plenty of draft picks and there is a void at wide receiver with the free-agent departure of Sammy Watkins. Beckham also spends his offseasons in L.A. and Rams running back Todd Gurley told the Los Angeles Times “that’s my guy” when asked about Beckham.
“If we had him, man, it would be awesome. I’d be happy, [quarterback Jared] Goff will be happy, coach [Sean] McVay will be happy, [owner Stan] Kroenke, the whole team would be,” Gurley said.
Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News suggested that Beckham has a better chance of leaving New York than staying when he wrote: “is this really about if they trade him anymore, or is it actually now just about when?”
However, there may still be some lingering doubts that New York would accept a deal for Beckham. The Giants aren’t exactly loaded at wide receiver and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the only receiver with a very strong shot at being drafted in the first round. New York can also simply place the franchise tag on Beckham and the team may just be willing to listen to offers rather than seriously consider a deal that may not get them plenty in return.
Bryant’s status with the Cowboys, on the other hand, looks a bit more tenuous. After adding wide receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, the Cowboys are expected to ask Bryant to take a pay cut from a contract that pays him a base salary of $12.5 million the next two seasons. Team owner and president Jerry Jones said on Tuesday that he and Bryant “need to talk.”
Both Jones and head coach Jason Garrett have stated that the additions of Hurns and Thompson won’t impact whether Bryant stays or goes.
However, the Cowboys may see the benefit in either trading or releasing the 29-year-old. Dallas can save $8.5 million or $12.5 million if he is a post-June 1 cut.
A big question surrounding Bryant is how effective he will be in 2018 as he comes off his least productive 16-game season and after some nagging injuries. Bryant was targeted 133 times but finished with just 838 receiving yards.
But the Cowboys added depth to the offensive line, which could mean more time for quarterback Dak Prescott to find Bryant. New wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal recently said he is “excited” to work with Bryant and likes his competitive spirit.
In a February radio interview with the “Ben and Skin Show,” Bryant said it wouldn’t “seem right” to play for a team other than the Cowboys. He also predicted that he would rebound from a subpar 2017.
“I promise you, I’m going to shut a lot of people up,” Bryant said.