One Man’s Opinion – Why Making Odell Beckham Jr. the Highest-Paid Receiver Would be a Giant Mistake
Odell Beckham Jr. is a talented receiver. He’s very, very good at what he does. I’m not here to argue his talent. I am, however, here to say that making him the highest-paid receiver in the league (and therefore in league history) would be a giant mistake.
In a league where salaries are continuing to rise, and so many players are demanding more and more guaranteed money, deciding who gets the biggest contracts is of the utmost importance because it’s going to impact your franchise for roughly half a decade, and a bad contract can certainly impact your ability to sign players who are a proven commodity. This is specifically the reason that I think giving Beckham, Jr. the richest contract ever at his position could be potentially catastrophic for the Giants franchise. Here are the current top five highest contracts for the Giants right now (according to spotrac.com):
Quarterback Eli Manning: 4-years/$84 million ($67 million guaranteed), expires 2020
Defensive end Olivier Vernon: 5-years/$85 million ($52.5 million guaranteed), expires 2021
Left tackle Nate Solder: 4-years/$62 million ($34.8 million guaranteed), expires 2022
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins: 5-years/$62.5 million ($28.8 million guaranteed), expires 2021
Linebacker Alec Ogletree: 4-years/$42.750 million ($21.369 million guaranteed), expires 2022
Taking into account that Manning is 37 years old and the Giants might be in the market for a new quarterback soon, not to mention that rookie running back Saquon Barkley signed a 4 year – $31,194,751 million deal – fully guaranteed, by the way – and if he lives up to his #2 overall draft pick potential he’ll be up for a massive raise as well. As we’ve seen in the past when your quarterback, wide receiver and running back take up much of your salary cap, you will lose the opportunity to spend elsewhere, or rather spend the way you might want to on defense or your offensive line. If the Giants do indeed decide to give Beckham the richest deal, exceeding what was given to Antonio Brown, it’s reasonable to expect him to get a deal that averages about $20 million annually.
I’m not saying that Beckham’s talent alone isn’t worth a huge raise (he’s currently making $2,601,550 this year which good for 69th place among receivers). I mean, Jarvis Landry is making north of $15 million and he’s not in the same stratosphere, skill-wise, as Beckham. That’s part of the problem with the league – and all sports leagues, really – teams will overpay for marginal talent and skew the scale for the truly talented players. If someone like Landry, who is very good but not otherworldly, can be one of the top-paid players at his position but not one of the top-tier in terms of talent. Here are the top ten receivers in terms of annual salary:
1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers – $17 million
2. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $16.5 million
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans/Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams – $16.2 million
4. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs – $16 million
5. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns – $15.1 million
6. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals – $15 million
7. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers – $14.5 million
8. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings – $14.4 million
9. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons – $14,251,209
It can be argued that Beckham is certainly better than Evans, Watkins, and Landry. It can also be argued that he is at least as good if not better than Green, Adams, and Diggs. Jones, Hopkins, and Brown are better than Beckham, but it’s not a massive difference. So he should be making about $16-17 million based on what the market has dictated. The issue isn’t his talent, it’s his mercurial personality. When Beckham is on the field he’s dynamic and exceptionally talented, averaging about 1,350 yards per season with the exception of last year when he was injured for the majority of the season. This, of course, means he’s averaging almost 85 yards per game which isn’t overly impressive considering how wide-open offenses are now and all the rules in place to protect receivers and prevent them from being slowed down very much by defenders.
But Beckham seems to be easily rattled, especially by cornerback Josh Norman, with whom he has feuded for several years. Norman consistently gets into Beckham’s head, so much so that Beckham could probably become the highest-paid receiver by charging Norman rent for the space he takes up. Beckham has been suspended in December of 2015 for committing three personal fouls against the Carolina Panthers (notably Josh Norman before he signed with the Washington Redskins, a team Beckham’s Giants plays twice per year) including one where he ran across the field to deliver a helmet to helmet hit on Norman during a play in which neither of them was involved. He throws tantrums on the sidelines when things don’t go well for him in games and his lack of maturity shines through.
This is the real reason that I feel that the Giants shouldn’t give Beckham a massive contract that could potentially cripple them financially going forward. I certainly feel like he should be making more money, but given all the reasons I have, I think that I’ve introduced enough doubt about his worthiness overall to receive a franchise- and league-altering deal. While I do believe he has the talent to warrant the amount of money he will undoubtedly command I do not believe that he has the emotional maturity to handle the responsibility that being the highest-paid player at his position entails. Of course, this is just my opinion and yours may differ from mine. If so, let me know in the comments below!