Season Review: What Odell Beckham’s Absence Taught Us About the New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 02: Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants scores a third quarter touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on December 02, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Few franchises in 2018 had a buildup as steep as the New York Giants. Few franchises in history have followed such buildup with a season that reaped more disappointment than pride. After a highly rated draft and many effective offseason roster changes, it seemed “Big Blue” was ready to walk into the regular season and dominate all who dared to challenge the crew.

That, obviously, did not happen. One of the biggest question marks entering the season was Odell Beckham Jr. – the resident Giants drama queen who was out to prove his worth after a $95 million contract extension. Now that the Giants season has officially ended with a disappointing 5-11 record (finishing last in the NFC East for the second straight year), Beckham still remains somewhat of a red flag. Before we can look ahead, it’s time to look back over what we’ve learned from the star wide receiver this year.

Did Odell Beckham Make Good on His Promises of Self Worth and Sportsmanship in 2018?

Brand New Beckham

2017 was a rough year for Beckham. After only four regular-season games, his leg was injured while taking on Los Angeles Chargers. He was placed on Injured Reserve for the remainder of the season, and it seemed as though all was lost for the G-Men.

Although hesitant, the Giants took a leap and re-signed the receiver to the largest and highest-paying wide receiver contract in NFL history. There were still concerns about Beckham’s continued attitude issues, which the player attempted to put to rest in 2018. Beckham cited his passion for the game as being larger than his previous dramatics. His leadership this season has given the league hope that Beckham is, in fact, a changed man and a potential leader both on and off the field for the seasons to come. While he’s had a few run-ins with the media, they’ve been no more obnoxious than those of his peers.

Still, Beckham’s new five-year contract extension has promise as one of the most rewarding payouts the league has ever seen. After sitting out the last four games of the season due to a quadriceps injury sustained at home against the Chicago Bears, it could be argued that his massive contract just isn’t worth 13 fluctuating performances.

Manning’s Military

The absence of Beckham in the final four games gave head coach Pat Shurmur the opportunity to evaluate the other weapons in the Giants arsenal. Considering the team’s losing record and dead playoff hopes, some might argue that tanking a season is a better option than a mediocre record. The latter option allows for more draft capital in the following year. Be grateful the Giants organization did not see that as the case.

Eli Manning found weapons in Evan Engram, Cody Latimer, and Wayne Gallman. The talent of these players had been overlooked in favor of Beckham in prior games. Manning was also able to better utilize the flexible rookie running back Saquon Barkley as a receiver. Over four games, the Giants and their fans witnessed productive execution on offense without their alleged MVP.

Beckham has been notably vocal about his opinions regarding the effectiveness of the Giants’ offense as led by Manning. His criticism of his quarterback has been widely scrutinized and subject to change on an almost game-to-game basis. Shurmur has assured us that Manning will remain the team’s starter in 2019, which is just another factor to consider when considering Beckham’s place on the team.

A Worthwhile Wide-Out Investment

All things considered, two things can be ascertained from the current state of the New York Giants roster. First, Beckham has the makings and mentality of a highly effective player. Second, the Giants have the means to exist without him. So what’s the next step in their relationship?

It would be immature to assert that Beckham is not worth his paycheck. This past season, he has played mostly effectively, and has seemingly made the necessary changes in his personality. But what about the Giants?

If Odell was traded, for instance, to the Arizona Cardinals, the neighboring New York Jets, or the San Francisco 49ers – all teams who might be able to utilize his talents and fulfill his salary requirements – the Giants would undoubtedly end up with more draft capital to spend, as well as more cap space. While Beckham was once a necessity in Ben McAdoo’s offense, he no longer appears to be a required cog in Shurmur’s new machine.

Last Word on Odell Beckham Jr.’s 2018 Season

Clearly, the Giants still have a lot of work to do if they plan on being contenders next year. The time has come to start looking at free agents and college players that can round out the team. Beckham has certainly demonstrated himself useful to the team, but these teachings have come at a very high price – literally. Trading Beckham could result in more draft picks and more capital to spend on both new and existing talents. Barkley, for example, will enter contract negotiations as soon as the offseason hits.

Still, I can tell y’all right now, my own most valuable takeaway from the Giants season came towards the end: I’d rather be a Giants fan today than an Oakland Raiders fan. And we still ended the story with a better record than the Jets.

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