New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL. But he is entering the fourth year of his four – year rookie contract that was worth $10.4 million (all guaranteed) and he’s scheduled to make just $1.8 million in 2017. And the talented wideout feels he is worth more than that, and that’s a large part of why he is sitting out OTAs. If OBJ plays the 2017 season for $1.8 million he will be the 64th-highest paid wide receiver in the league.
Beckham may not be the best receiver in the NFL (that distinction probably goes to Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown), but OBJ is probably in the top-10 at his position in the NFL. That being said, the Giants need to be very careful when negotiating Beckham’s new deal.
New York Giants Should Be Careful During Odell Beckham Jr.’s Contract Negotiations
The Giants Have All of the Leverage
The fact that Beckham was a first-round selection afforded the Giants the ability to lock up OBJ to a fifth-year (2018 season) and they have chosen to do so. Since he was selected 12th overall he will make the average of the third through 25th players at wide receiver ($8.5M) for that fifth-year.
Both the Giants and Beckham know that the team has OBJ signed for at least the next two seasons at the bargain basement price of $10.3 million combined. And following the 2018 season the G-Men can use the franchise tag on Beckham for the 2019 season and then again for the 2020 season if they want to. They could keep him around for four years at a very team friendly salary during that time (with very little risk), but at a minimum the team has OBJ locked up for the next two years at a salary that is far less than his true value.
Smart Teams Build From the Football Out, Not From the Sideline In
Sure, Beckham has shown that he is an elite receiver, making the Pro Bowl in his first three years in the league. But some sources are stating that his new deal (when one is finally reached) will be worth around $100 million in total and $20 million per season. Some are saying that OBJ’s new deal will surpass Calvin Johnson’s $113 million deal he signed with the Detroit Lions in 2012. Johnson may be one of the best and most talented receivers the NFL has ever seen and even he wasn’t enough to help the Lions. Beckham is good, actually he’s really good, but he is no Calvin Johnson, so it is incredibly doubtful that he would be the difference in getting the Giants to the Super Bowl.
Smart teams (i.e. New England Patriots) don’t overpay players, particularly at receiver. Teams that are consistently in the mix to make it to and win the Super Bowl each season don’t have pricey wide receivers on their roster. The Patriots won the Super Bowl last season with Julian Edelman (reportedly will be signing a team friendly two year extension) and Chris Hogan playing big roles and neither of them are putting the Patriots in a precarious salary cap position.
The best way for a team to win a Super Bowl is to have an intelligent head coach, an at least above average quarterback, a good offensive line (particularly at center and left tackle), at least one difference making pass rusher, and a really good cornerback. At a bare minimum those positions are more important than a top tier receiver. It could easily be argued that a talented pass catching running back who can block and a talented and smart linebacker would both also be much more valuable than a top-10 receiver.
Top talent at those positions is much harder to come by than it is at wide receiver. Teams can find talented, speedy receivers with good hands who fit their system/scheme in the draft each year much more easily than they can the other, more important positions. The Giants need to be very careful to make sure OBJ’s eventual deal/extension does not keep them from bringing in talent at other positions. If needed they can remind themselves of what happened to the Baltimore Ravens after Joe Flacco signed his new deal and he’s a talented quarterback, who is playing a much more important position than that of wide receiver.