The biggest story from Wednesday could end up being a nothing burger, or it could be a hot tamale. For now, there’s not much clarity regarding talk of a potential trade that would send receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the Browns to the Vikings. And that lack of clarity requires the talk to be taken somewhat seriously, at least for now.
At the risk of outing sources (which some consider to be bad form, but sometimes it’s necessary), it doesn’t take a genius (which means I’m qualified) to connect the dots from Marc Malusis of WFAN — the Giants’ flagship station — back to the team that drafted OBJ and employed him for five years. If the Vikings are considering trading for Beckham, the Vikings surely are doing their homework. That homework surely includes contacting, wait for it, the Giants.
Thus, the Vikings call the Giants and someone with the Giants leaks it to Malusis, and sometimes it’s just that simple.
From the Vikings’ perspective, don’t expect anything definitive unless and until a deal is done, if a deal is done. From “we have no intent to trade Percy Harvin” to “Stefon Diggs is a Minnesota Viking,” Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman has mastered the art of hedging his words when it comes to potential trades. Given that Beckham is under contract with the Browns, Spielman has any easy way to avoid any commentary on the topic, by simply citing a blanket position that the team doesn’t ever discuss issues related to players under contract with other teams.
From Cleveland’s perspective, the smart move (if there’s nothing to the trade talk) would be to shout from the rooftops that there’s nothing to the trade talk. Instead, the only Browns-side reporting comes from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who cites not a Browns source but a “source close to the Vikings” in support of the notion that the WFAN report is “false.”
So why aren’t the Browns saying anything, on or off the record, to Cabot? If there’s nothing to it, they need to put this fire out, quickly. If, alternatively, there’s a “there” there, the Browns are smart to not go there. If they tell Cabot that it’s false and she reports, citing a Browns source, that it’s false and it ends up being not false, Cabot gets burned and the relationship gets damaged.
Bottom line? Based on how this emerged and how the teams involved have, and haven’t, reacted to it, it’s impossible to ignore it. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happening. But it can’t be written off as a non-story, yet.