The New York Giants had to pay wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and the contract is both a steal and a gamble for the franchise.
The New York Giants didn’t use the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on a quarterback. Like it not, fans, it’s what happened.
The Giants believed running back Saquon Barkley was a better option than any of the available first-year signal callers. They grabbed Barkley, and doing so played a part in the team agreeing to sign superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to an extension that could be worth up to $95 million.
Much has and will be made about the team’s future salary cap situations and how utilizing this much cap space to keep a wide receiver, regardless of talent, will affect the franchise as it pertains to negotiations with others already on the roster and with finding the successor for two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.
This isn’t the scientific answer many desire, but the reality is that those are problems for a future version of the front office or for a new regime. More often than not, these situations work themselves out in varying ways.
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Paying Beckham was the obvious and only decision. Doing so eliminates any drama caused by discussions about his contract. Thanks to Roger Lewis and others on the roster, we know Beckham’s teammates are overjoyed he’s staying put. Putting pen to paper on the deal was also a necessary step toward achieving the unannounced goal of winning one more Super Bowl before Manning and the Giants part ways.
Money paid to Beckham becomes a steal worth its weight in gold if he hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy while wearing a Big Blue jersey at any point over the next three years. In such a scenario, the Giants could get Manning off the books and also give him the ability to exit with his head held high as a three-time champion and an all-time great headed to the Hall of Fame.
Even if the Giants want to keep Manning past 2018, the club could ask him to take a pay cut to free funds. Manning may oblige if he feels the Giants are only 19 or 20 games away from winning a title come next March.
Beckham can also assist either Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta or someone not on the roster tasked with replacing Manning in the starting lineup merely by his presence on the field. Remember that Manning’s confidence and play improved following the addition of Plaxico Burress. Beckham can be that type of target for a young QB following in the footsteps of the greatest signal-caller in franchise history.
Yes, awarding Beckham with $65 million in guaranteed cash is a risk. Giving any player that much money is a gamble. Beckham could suffer the type of injury that derailed the career of Victor Cruz. The front office could wish it had additional salary cap space to pay an available free-agent QB in 2019 or 2020 if Manning is gone and neither Webb nor Lauletta earn the gig.
Those worrying about New York rosters not yet assembled should realize Beckham’s new contract is, essentially, little more than a three-year extension. Per Spotrac and Over the Cap, New York can reevaluate the matter after the 2020 season, as the Giants could reclaim roughly $11 million in cap savings by cutting Beckham in early 2021. That fact may lead to trade opportunities depending on all that occurs around the NFL between September 2018 and that time.
If anything, Beckham’s deal takes the pressure off of him and off the coaching staff and places it all on Manning’s shoulders.
The Giants removed head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Manning was given an improved offensive line and the top overall offensive player of the draft class. His three favorite targets are healthy, happy and ready to start the campaign. He’ll be out of excuses if the Giants aren’t, at worst, competing for a playoff spot on the final Sunday of the season.
NFL franchises close their eyes and wish for the best whenever they sign veterans to expensive extensions. It’s the nature of the business. The Giants locked-down a young man who could be the best player at his position for the next three seasons, and doing so gave a loyal soldier one more opportunity to guide his troops to the figurative mountaintop. The gamble is worth the possible reward.