CLEVELAND, Ohio. — Odell Beckham Jr. is about to run a deep route out of New Jersey and straight to Cleveland.
The star wide receiver is bound for the Browns to be a target for quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Browns agreed to acquire Beckham in a blockbuster trade, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
The Browns are sending a first- and third-round pick in 2019 along with safety Jabrill Peppers to the Giants for Beckham, one of the NFL’s top players, said the people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because league rules prohibit teams from announcing trades until 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The deal is conditional on both players passing physicals.
With the Browns, Beckham will be reunited with receiver Jarvis Landry, a teammate at LSU. He’ll also give quarterback Baker Mayfield an elite target, and his arrival could vault the Browns, who went 7-8-1 last season after not winning a game in 2017, into legitimate championship contenders.
Rumors of a possible deal have swirled for weeks, with several Browns players teasing a major move by Cleveland general manager John Dorsey on social media. Dorsey pulled it off, bringing a major star to accelerate his attempt to rebuild the Browns into consistent winners. Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002.
The trade is the second major one involving a star wide receiver in four days as the Pittsburgh Steelers recently sent Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders.
While Beckham is immensely talented, there is some baggage as he can be temperamental and difficult. He also comes off two injury-plagued years. Before last season, he became the league’s highest-paid receiver with a five-year, $90 million contract extension.
He played five seasons in New York, making the Pro Bowl in his first three. He was the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014.
It’s the second trade completed in the past week by the Giants and Browns. Cleveland sent guard Kevin Zeitler to New York for edge rusher Olivier Vernon, who will now play on the opposite side from Pro Bowler Myles Garrett.
The Giants had been reluctant to trade Beckham, with GM Dave Gettleman insisting over the past few months that the club did not sign him to a five-year, $90 million extension in late August to trade him. But the Browns were persistent and Dorsey came up with a package the Giants couldn’t resist.
And now new Browns coach Freddie Kitchens has a weapon to deploy for Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick last year who had a dazzling debut season in which he set the NFL record for touchdown passes by a rookie.
Kitchens will have to try to keep Beckham in check, something Giants coach Pat Shurmur struggled to do. Early last season, with the Giants off to another bad start, Beckham seemed upset with his role in Shurmur’s new offense and said quarterback Eli Manning was not capable of throwing deep passes.