Odell Beckham has gotten paid. He received the contract he wanted from the New York Giants entering last season, when he suffered an injury in the preseason and then again in the regular season, and only played four games. That ended a stretch of three seasons where Beckham had at least 90 catches, at least 1,300 yards, and double-digit touchdowns scored.
There’s no doubt that Beckham is one of the most talented wide receivers in the game, but what is reported as an expensive and lengthy investment carrying a ton of risk. Beckham is a tabloid star, and his name seems to constantly pop up. And no, I’m not even talking about things that happen in games, like managing to upset the owner with a dog peeing celebration in one of the few games he played last year. That is harmless. I’m talking about his name constantly coming up where there is smoke, and the risk of his rock star lifestyle.
It was just five months ago that a video emerged of Beckham with a white substance. Just two weeks after that, a man sued him for assault, which Beckham denies. And just a month ago, there were stories of Beckham being accused of illegally paying a woman for sex, with another denial. That was all just this offseason, when Beckham was working back from his injury and wanting a new deal. He showed up to camp and earned praise, and has managed to stay out of incriminating videos for six weeks. You think his propensity to end up in situations where he is accused of things will go down now that he has this deal? It was true in March and not enough has changed to make this a worthwhile risk for New York.
Setting all those concerns aside, Beckham is also coming off an injury where he basically missed the whole season at age 25. Yes, we saw the Giants’ offense collapse and Eli Manning look like he aged 10 years overnight. The solution for the Giants has been to double down on Manning and his 6.1 yards per attempt right before his 37th birthday, draft Saquon Barkley and secure Beckham for the longer term.
There’s no guarantee that the Beckham we got in his first three years is the one the Giants will get over the next four. A look at the other wide receivers who made three Pro Bowls by age 25 is a mixed bags that includes several guys who did not continue their run. A majority were still top 12 guys at age 26 and 27 (the Giants had Beckham under contract at age 26 prior to this), but less than a third were still elite at 28 and 29.
In going this route, the Giants are papering over holes and a rebuild. Barkley and Beckham are going to make them better in 2018, if they both are on the field. Maybe they even get in the wildcard discussion if things break right, and if that Manning decline was only due to personnel.
But this contract for Odell would have actually made more sense if the Giants had gone QB with the 2nd pick, and thus committed less money to the position over the next four years while paying Beckham. But they are still paying Manning, they still have offensive line issues, and if they are simply mediocre they won’t be in a position to replace Manning easily. They’ll either have to spend money on a veteran or hope to nail a non-top pick rookie.
The Giants will be celebrated today but I don’t know that the new blueprint for building the next great team is paying heavily for a recently injured receiver and passing on a QB to draft a running back to continue on with someone who will soon be 38.