Jets to sign Bell, Browns get OBJ
The Associated Press
While the free agency spending frenzy runs wild, the Giants and Browns found a way to overshadow it Tuesday: a trade of Odell Beckham Jr.
Not to be outdone, however, the Jets got the guy at the top of their free agency list, agreeing with former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell on a deal early today.
The Giants are sending their star receiver to Cleveland for first- and second-round draft picks in April and safety Jabrill Peppers in the second blockbuster trade in four days. On Saturday, Pittsburgh sent unhappy wideout Antonio Brown to Oakland, a deal Brown forced.
Beckham is the NFL’s highest-paid receiver; he got a five-year, $90 million extension last August. He comes off two injury-plagued seasons, but when healthy is a game-breaking target, just like Brown.
The two trades become official today when the league’s business year begins. People with knowledge of the moves told The Associated Press of the trades, speaking anonymously because the transactions can’t be announced until after 4 p.m. EDT today.
Beckham is known for his gravity-defying catches and breakaway skills, but also for being temperamental. He was suspended for one game in 2015 for his on-field battles with cornerback Josh Norman, then with Carolina.
Cleveland suddenly looks like a force in an AFC North in which both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have been weakened in the offseason. With Beckham reunited with receiver Jarvis Landry, a teammate at LSU, it gives quarterback Baker Mayfield two top targets. The Browns, who went 7-8-1 last season after not winning a game in 2017, haven’t made the playoffs since 2002.
The mega-trade came hours after another busy day of dealmaking.
The money flowed out of New Jersey, with the Jets agreeing Tuesday to contracts with three players: wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy, and linebacker C.J. Mosley. The team also will re-sign cornerback Darryl Roberts and defensive end Henry Anderson.
But the big news came when the Jets and Bell agreed on a deal. ESPN first reported the signing, saying the contract is for four years and $52.5 million.
The deal gives new coach Adam Gase and second-year quarterback Sam Darnold a big-time playmaker, arguably the best player at his position before Bell opted to sit out all of last season rather than sign a franchise tender with Pittsburgh.
Bell has rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns, and has 312 catches for 2,660 yards and seven scores as one of the most versatile and dangerous offensive players in the NFL.
“I’m back in the green baby,” the former Michigan State star wrote on Twitter. “Let’s get it.”
The money streamed out of Green Bay, with the Packers getting deals with edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The Packers also cut veteran linebacker Nick Perry.
And it poured out of Oakland once more when the Raiders kept their vault open and agreed to a four-year contract with safety Lamarcus Joyner. The Raiders previously made big moves on offense by trading for Brown and agreeing to a deal with tackle Trent Brown.