New York Giants: The stark reality of Odell Beckham’s contract

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

In a preseason of uncertainty for the New York Giants, one thing is for certain, Odell Beckham’s contract negotiations will continue to dominate the headlines.

Last week, Beckham indicated that he was “optimistic” about getting a new deal in place with the New York Giants. On Monday, ESPN reported that Zeke Handu, agent for Odell Beckham, had left New York without a deal in place for the dynamic wide receiver.

Right now, it seems that getting Beckham to ink a new pact remains a top priority for the G-Men. Team brass, general manager Dave Gettleman and co-owner John Mara, have publicly discussed the Beckham contract situation for some time now. For his part, OBJ has checked all the boxes in terms of getting a deal done.

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The fact that a deal has not been consummated simply shows the state of the NFL wide receiver market.

So far, Beckham reported to camp on time and has acclimated well to head coach Pat Shurmur and the new coaching regime. The star receiver also welcomed new running back Saquon Barkley into the fold with open arms. He also has not made headlines with off-field antics.

Uniquely, this seems to be one negotiation where the player and the team have legitimate arguments and concerns.

What’s the problem?

Previously, Beckham indicated that he wanted to become the highest paid player in the NFL. That’s probably not going to happen with or without the New York Giants. In addition, Beckham and his camp threw out a $20 million average annual value contract number. Truthfully, that figure would blow away existing wide receiver contracts, and it isn’t likely attainable, unless the Giants completely change course.

On the other hand, Beckham has been undervalued given his production for the team in his first four seasons. It’s natural that OBJ would want to make up for what he may deem to be lost wages.


"“The Giants are currently valuing Beckham at a total average annual value (AAV) below Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins, who has an AAV of $16 million in his current deal, a source told Anderson.”"

In terms of negotiations, valuing Beckham at Sammy Watkins level borders on nonsensical. Although Watkins was drafted ahead of OBJ in 2014, Beckham’s production continues to be far superior. In the Giants favor, the truth remains that Watkins contract is a the result of unrestricted free agency overpayment. The former Clemson star bolted the Los Angeles Rams (his second team) for the Kansas City Chiefs, as an unrestricted free agent. Watkins’ deal is for three-years with a potential buy out after two seasons.

In other words, it’s a dubious comparison.

According to Spotrac, the top AAV contract for a receiver belongs to Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers) at $17 million per season. But in reality, the best contract for a receiver belongs to Mike Evans. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers star inked a five-year, $82.5 million contract in March. That contract comes with a reported $55 million in guaranteed money.

What’s the end game?

Under normal negotiations, Beckham’s contract could and should surpass Evans’ deal in both AAV and guaranteed money. Doing the math, the Giants and Beckham appear to be $4 million per season apart, which amount to $20 million over the life of the contract.

That’s a wide gap.

Perhaps, the team doesn’t want to budge from their AAV of $16 million because OBJ’s camp remains stuck on $20 million per season. As much as fans won’t want to hear this, the $20 million AAV ask may be the walk away number for the team.

A contact ploy the parties could use is the old balloon payment scheme to reach the $20 million AAV. For the most part, it simply allows the player to save face. For example, the team and player could agree to a four-years at $74 million, with a fifth-year option at $26 million. Under this scenario, the fifth-year would either be bought out or renegotiated. It gets to the $20 million AAV in through voodoo economics.

Another option, at least for the team, is the franchise tag.

This season, the wide receiver franchise tag came in at $15.982 for 2018, and based upon the contracts we’ve seen thus far, will not grow appreciably next season. It seems that the only possible wideout who could impact the top 5 receivers’ salary chart would be Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons). And his contract would be a renegotiation. Jones and the Falcons agreed to a modification recently. It adjusted Jones’ 2018 salary to align with Antonio Brown, according to

Doing some quick math off of the current Spotrac numbers, next year’s franchise tag would be $16.38 million. It may remain under $17 million and will certainly set far below the $20 million that Beckham is asking for.

Also, and still based upon the current Spotrac numbers, the New York Giants could franchise tag Beckham a second time, and it would still stay below the magic $20 million mark.

Here’s how a second-year franchise tag works according to the Sporting News:

"“Players can be tagged in consecutive years, but it’s costly. For a player to be tagged two-straight years, the team must pay 120 percent of the player’s previous salary. If it’s three-straight years, the team must pay the player 144 percent of his previous salary.”"

All eyes are on these New York Giants during training camp. dark. Next

As you see, a second franchise tag still remains cost-effective for the G-Men, and they wouldn’t be stuck with a long-term contract. The downside is that the franchise tag is all salary, and counts 100 percent against the salary cap.

Keep in mind that Odell Beckham turns 26-years old this season (November 5), and a long-term deal takes him to age 31. The $64,000 question becomes: Will OBJ be worth $20 million to $26 million at that age? It’s a question that the New York Giants have to answer before the 2018 season begins..