Giants have big decision to make on Odell Beckham Jr.

Updated: August 19, 2018
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The New York Giants haven’t had a perfect romance with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. since drafting him in 2014. And there’s a reason for that. They like the idea of dating Beckham, but it’s been an uneasy relationship.

He’s different from what the team is accustomed to. Beckham is flashy, passionate and can be unpredictable at times. There are a plethora of instances that immediately come to mind when you think about the three-time Pro Bowler: the remarkable one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys his rookie season, the boat trip just days before the Giants’ playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the model and blunt incident in a hotel room in Paris, and pretending to urinate like a dog after scoring a touchdown. One of his many controversial celebrations.

The All-Pro reportedly wants an annual salary of $20 million, which would surpass the current stock, given that the Pittsburgh SteelersAntonio Brown signed an extension in February of 2017 that set the bar at $17 million for wideouts.

But should the Giants enter a long-term relationship by making Beckham the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL?

Talent wise, Beckham is an all-time great in the making. There’s not a weakness in his game. He’s a sharp route runner, has big-play ability, and he can line up all over the field and excel on short, intermediate or long passes. He’s got it all from the receiver position, which the stats convey.

Beckham registered at least 90 receptions, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons, marking him with the most receptions (288) and as the most targeted receiver (457) in NFL history.

He was chasing another elite season in 2017, with 25 catches for 302 yards and three scores through four games. That put him on pace for 100 receptions, 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns. But an ankle injury cost him the remainder of the year.

Beckham is the most explosive receiver of his generation both before and after the catch, and when healthy, he’s the most feared offensive player in a one-on-one matchup, though New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski would challenge that sentiment.

The former LSU Tiger is in the final year of a rookie deal that will pay him $8.5 million on the fifth-year option, and to date has collected just $10,406,198, which ranks 19th out of the 201 players at the position across the league. He understandably wants a lot more than that — something in line with the highest-paid receivers in the game.

Here is a breakdown of the top-five receiver contracts in the NFL:

Total value:

1) Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $82.5 million

2) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans: $81 million

3) Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams: $81 million

4) Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns: $75.5 million

5) Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: $73.25 million (after collecting a restructured $2 million bonus for 2018)

Most guaranteed money:

1) Mike Evans, Buccaneers: $38.26 million

2) DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: $36.5 million

3) Julio Jones, Falcons: $35.5 million

4) Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: $35 million

5) Jarvis Landry, Browns: $34 million

Average guarantee per year:

1) Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs: $10 million

2) Donte Moncrief, Jacksonville Jaguars: $9.6 million

3) Mike Evans, Buccaneers: $7.65 million

4) DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: $7.3 million

5) Julio Jones, Falcons: $7.1 million

Total average salary:

1) Antonio Brown, Steelers: $17 million

2) Mike Evans, Buccaneers: $16.5 million

3) Brandin Cooks, Rams: $16.2 million

4) DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: $16.2 million

5) Sammy Watkins, Chiefs: $16 million

Beckham’s production, young age (25) and the current wide receiver market allows his agent, Zeke Sandhu of Elite Athlete Management, to fight for his client’s wishes.

Most people believe Beckham shouldn’t be compensated more than Brown or Jones, which is reasonable. Brown is arguably the Jerry Rice of this generation, and Jones could easily present a case as to why he’s the NFL’s best wide receiver. Both are also more reliable.

They’re on the field more than Beckham and participate in postseason play more than he does. When you take that into consideration, along with the fact that he’s coming off an injury, Beckham might not deserve to be paid more than those two.

However, Brown is four years older than Beckham, and Beckham had as many TDs (3) last year as Jones and played in 12 fewer games. Bringing us to the final question: Can ownership and general manager Dave Gettleman trust their superstar enough to unload the Brinks truck?

Sure, since the winter meetings Beckham seems to be on his best behavior. He has convinced the Giants he’s gotten the message and is headed in the right direction with his attendance at several optional offseason workouts, mandatory minicamp in June, and his demeanor and punctuality arriving for training camp on Wednesdays.

Yet off the field issues and leadership skills remain a concern.

This is the same guy that led a group of teammates that boarded Amtrak to take them back to Newark. Instead of going home and resting on their day off for the wild-card game the following Sunday in Green Bay, Beckham called “Road Trip.” Only this wasn’t Animal House, this was the best player on a $2 billion football team setting the agenda for a playoff week.

It resulted in a four-catch, 28-yard outing in his first career playoff game, turning out to be an embarrassing debut for one of the league’s top receivers. Not to mention, the hole he seemingly punched in the wall at Lambeau Field, primarily due to frustration.

The Giants have a tough decision here. Can they trust Beckham to sustain this new and improved mentality, or is this a front until he signs on the dotted line? Some players disappoint after receiving the big check. Guys like Jay Cutler and Albert Haynesworth, for instance, got careless, fat and happy, then didn’t live up to their hefty contracts. 

Personally, I would place the franchise tag on Beckham. I just wouldn’t be ready to make a long-term commitment and would elect to go year-to-year. Plus New York would owe Beckham $43.7 million over the next three seasons, which aligns with what the Packers are paying Davante Adams ($43.9 million) over that same time frame. For four years, the price tag goes up to $71.4 million, which is more than the $68 million Brown got on his extension.

We’ll see what New York decides to do with its most prized possession. His talent speaks for itself, but is Beckham worth the risk of committing to long term? That’s the multimillion-dollar question the Giants ultimately have to ask themselves.

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