The New York Giants have plenty to worry about this offseason, but the club doesn’t have to worry about wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. right now.
On paper, the New York Giants have as much a chance to win Super Bowl LII as does any other team in the NFC. Just like the Giants, the Atlanta Falcons—the reigning conference champions—finished the regular season with a record of 11-5. The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East, but Big Blue swept their hated division rivals in 2016. Neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Seattle Seahawks are better than the Giants as February comes to an end.
With that said, the Giants must think ahead and about the future while at the same time attempting to establish a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl title less than 12 months from today. The first player who may come to the minds of fans and analysts regarding such discussions is dynamic New York wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham’s numbers and offensive production speak to what he has meant to the Giants since the club acquired him in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 24-year-old set records during his three seasons in the NFL, and he rapidly became a superstar known for completing one-handed catches and for featuring in national advertising campaigns. It’s not a stretch to suggest Beckham is the public face of the Giants as of the second month of 2017.
According to Spotrac, Beckham is signed through the 2017 season, and logic suggests the fifth-year option on that deal will certainly be picked up down the road. Some out there may even go so far to say the Giants need to sign Beckham long-term before any nasty negotiations that result in negative feelings on either side grow and cause distractions behind the scenes.
All would do well to pump the brakes regarding the Giants offering Beckham any type of contract extension between now and the end of 2017. For starters, Beckham’s rights belong to the Giants for the foreseeable future. So long as he remains healthy and available in terms of NFL rules and regulations, there is literally no chance the Giants will lose Beckham at any point during the club’s current pursuit of a Super Bowl crown.
Yes, Beckham would probably enjoy knowing he has additional millions upon millions of dollars guaranteed to him via a second NFL contract, but the reality of the situation is that he is still playing to earn such a deal. The NFL is the ultimate “what have you done for me lately?” league, and Beckham’s most recent performance that included multiple drops in a playoff loss to the Packers still leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth.
Four quarters of football do not, of course, erase all that Beckham has achieved over the past three years, but one bad postseason appearance does stick out on a resume filled with other red flags. Beckham has allowed his emotions to get the best of him in multiple contests against a variety of opponents. While he’s no more a “diva” than any other top-tier wide receiver in the NFL today, he nevertheless has that reputation and personality.
It wasn’t all that long ago certain individuals were suggesting the Giants should trade Beckham. James Parks of 247Sports.com wrote such things, Fox Sports personality Colin Cowherd made his feelings known on the subject last June. Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead wrote last January that the Giants trading Beckham “isn’t crazy” considering the noticeable holes on the club’s roster.
It should be pointed out, there is little chance, if any at all, the Giants will trade Beckham while he is in his physical prime. Regardless of whatever antics he gets into, he has no history of legal problems that prevent him from featuring in an NFL starting lineup. It’s nearly certain the Giants wouldn’t receive equal value in any transaction that included Beckham unless the team somehow acquired a young franchise quarterback such as Andrew Luck (which isn’t happening).
None of that means the Giants can or should yet trust Beckham to be what the club needs to him to be starting next summer. When the Giants parted ways with Victor Cruz, Beckham became the proven elder statesman of the team’s wide receiver unit. He will retain that role even if the Giants acquire a veteran during free agency, as that person will be a newcomer to the roster and the team’s offense.
How will Beckham respond to these duties? Will he mature, both as a player and as a person, like the Giants need him to before next winter? Can he stop generating headlines for reasons that have nothing to do with making spectacular catches or finding end zones during games? The Giants must have answers to such questions before they can sign Beckham past 2018.
New York will possess plenty of salary cap space to retain Beckham throughout the bulk of his best playing days when the time to truly begin contract talks arrives. For now, Beckham must show he can help get the best out of quarterback Eli Manning during the twilight of Manning’s Hall-of-Fame career. If Beckham fails to do that, the Giants may need to make a difficult decision next winter.