NFL: How One Day Shifted the Power for New York Football

A few years from now New York sports fan will look back at the evening of March 12th as the turning point for New York football. A day filled with some very high highs and some incredible lows. For years the Giants have been the premiere franchise in New York with multiple Super Bowl championships over the past 11 years. However, after March 12th the little brother Jets might be ready for their turn in the big apple spotlight.

Although the Giants have been historically more successful than the Jets, the last few years have not been kind to either franchise. Last season the two teams combined for 9 total wins. The Giants went 5-11 and the Jets went 4-12. But even last year it was clear the two teams seem to be moving in opposite directions. The Giants elected to draft Saquan Barkley with the 2nd overall pick as opposed to drafting a quarterback to eventually replace the aging Eli Manning. The Jets then drafted Sam Darnold with the very next pick. An organization that has been desperate for a franchise quarterback since Chad Pennington. For the Giants, it was a win-now approach to the season. Drafting Saquan along with signing a few big names in free agency meant Big Blue was all in for one last championship run with Eli.

The Jets, on the other hand, were starting their rebuild centered-around, Darnold. Meanwhile, things didn’t go according to plan for the Giants. It was a year of much agony and many defeats. And although the Jets also lost games, the main focus on the season was developing their rookie quarterback.

Heading into this offseason the Jets were in prime shape to be big spenders in free agency, having over $100M in cap space to acquire free agents. The Giants, on the other hand, was in a sort of limbo. A situation that had almost everyone around the football world wondering whether the team was moving forward and starting a rebuild, or if they were retooling for another championship run.

The Giants made waves for the wrong reasons as they let Landon Collins go without franchise tagging him or finding a trade for him. This left many perplexed and a few days later he signed a huge contract with division rival Washington. For the Jets they were staying under the radar for a while, signing guys such as Jamison Crowder that would give more offensive weapons for Darnold. But the fabric and direction of both franchises were about to make a change the likes of which nobody could’ve foreseen.

The morning of March 12th news broke that linebacker Anthony Barr had turned down the Jets offer to him. The day before, Barr had verbally agreed to a deal worth about $14M a year. But after sleeping on it, he decided to go back to Minnesota on a 5 year/$67.5M deal. The contract was actually less per year than what the Jets were offering.

This seemed like a shot to the gut for Jets fans. They had just agreed to a deal with linebacker C.J. Mosley and the hope was that the addition of Barr would help create a formidable linebacker unit. Although Mosley didn’t back out on the Jets, the feeling for most of the day was just in typical Jets fashion, something had to go wrong. However, Barr not signing meant the Jets could add more money to whatever they were offering Le’Veon Bell. Jets management also gave Bell a deadline to sign otherwise they would move on.

Odell Trade

For the longest, the Jets front office has been the dysfunctional one and the one that makes questionable decisions. But Tuesday evening the Giants pulled the biggest “Hold my beer” moment in recent sports history. Right around dinner time news broke that shocked the NFL and sporting world. It was reported that the Giants were trading superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr to the Cleveland Browns. In return, the Giants received Jabrill Peppers, the Browns 2019 1st round pick (17) and a 3rd round pick (95). Peppers was the Browns 2017 1st round pick.

The rumors bounced for a while about the Giants possibly trading Odell. However, nobody expected it to happen. Especially since the team had just signed Beckham Jr to a 5 yr/$95M last season. The Giants general manager Dave Gettleman even said word for word, “We did not sign Odell to trade him”. Well, that turned out to be untrue and the G-men shipped OBJ off to Cleveland.

To nobody’s surprise twitter exploded and Giants fans were in a tizzy. The tweets of anger, sorrow and disbelief filled the Twittersphere. For the rest of the night, the Giants were the laughing-stock of the NFL world. Space usually inhabited by their brethren New York team the Jets. It was just unfathomable that a team would part ways with a player of OBJ’s caliber and only get what they got as compensation. Not everyone was upset at the move, however. There were countless Giants fans and sports figures that had enough of Odell’s antics and wanted him gone. It’s not surprising though that the vast majority of those that want him gone were older fans. They just didn’t think he played the game the right way. It’s a little absurd to think a fan would want arguably the best receiver in Giants history to go.

Bell Signing

Then, a little bit past midnight, with half of New York still reeling from losing their best player, it happened. Adam Schefter reported that running back Le’Veon Bell was signing with the New York Jets. The Jets and Bell agreed to a 4year/$52M contract. The irony with this deal is that a year ago Le’Veon responds to a tweet saying that $60M wasn’t enough for him to sign with the Jets. This was the Jets goal heading into the offseason. With all that cap space they finally made the dream a reality. Therefore, in a matter of hours, the Giants traded away a top 3 WR and the Jets signed a top 3 RB.

Bell is the game-breaking talent that has deprived the Jets for a while. His ability not only as a running back but also a receiver makes him arguably the best offensive weapon in the league. What he also brings is a security blanket for the young Sam Darnold. It’s important to surround a growing QB with talent and you couldn’t ask for better talent in Bell. He will provide relief in the running game as well as catching out of the backfield. With the Bell signing the Jets can now focus all their attention on strengthening their lackluster defense. Earlier this offseason the Jets boosted their offensive line by trading for Kelechi Osemele from the Oakland Raiders. This should open up some holes for Bell to run through as well as give Darnold added protection.

For all we know, the Giants could have a miraculous draft and in a few years, the conversation could be how this Odell trade was a steal. But for the time being, the future doesn’t look bright for an organization that is showing its ineptitude. On the other hand, the Jets may finally be turning it around as a franchise. Although their offseason moves do not automatically make them a contender, it shows the team is taking a path in the right direction. With a solid draft this year the Jets may be in the Super Bowl contenders conversation in a year or two. But one thing’s for certain. If Odell finds success with the Browns and the Jets also reach the promised land, it would be hard to imagine an ESPN 30 for 30 not being written about March 12th.

How do you feel about the balance of football power in New York? Leave a comment below.

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