By Michael Stewart
Since mid July the New York Giants and the agent of Odell Beckham Jr. Zeke Sandhu have been negotiating a multi-year contract that according to Sandhu could exceed $100 million; which would make Beckham the highest paid wide receiver in the league. Now it’s also being reported that the Giants side values Beckham at roughly $16M; which is approximately what Sammy Watkins received from the Kansas City Chiefs. Both sides would like to see a deal get done, especially Beckham’s camp who have been pressing the issue as quickly as the start of the season. The hesitation on the Giants part covers a number of areas such as: health issues as Beckham is recovering from an ankle injury that sidelined him for 11 games in 2017 and hasn’t played thus far in pre-season. Secondly, if Beckham could fit into Pat Shurmur’s new program and be more of a leader instead of a distraction on and off the field. Thus far, Beckham has done and said all the right things and has been a model citizen this year. Attending mandatory (and some voluntary) team activities this offseason and was on time to report for training camp. The Giants hope that this is the new and improved Beckham and all of the negative press over the past four seasons is behind them.
Currently, the top 5 wide receivers in terms of salary per year are Antonio Brown ($17M), Mike Evans ($16.5M), DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2M), Brandin Cooks ($16.2M) and Sammy Watkins ($16M). Based on these players, a strong argument to support the Beckham side is that Beckham has outperformed each one with the exception of Antonio Brown. However; Beckham is only 25 years old and 5 years younger than Brown. Beckham is scheduled to make $8.4M in his final year of his rookie contract and the Giants certainly have options in which direction to go with Beckham. Obviously; they can lock him up into a multi-year deal or they can place the franchise tag on him for the next two seasons. Now this is where it’s get a little tricky for the Giants, based on their current cap space that needs to be considered. If the Giants decide to offer Beckham a long term deal, it would more than likely be a 5 year deal worth approximately $86M with $56M in guaranteed money. Now that averages out to $17.2M per year and slightly higher than Antonio Brown’s annual take at $17M. Now if the Giants choose to go the other route and franchise tag Beckham in 2019 & 2020, his average salary over the next three seasons would be roughly $14.5; which would save them approximately $2.7M per year. Either way, the Giants GM Dave Gettleman would need to make other roster moves to help get the Giants well under the cap to make this possible.
So what would be a fair contract for Beckham? Beckham’s side is reportedly looking at a $100M deal; which averages out to $20M per year. Whereas; the Giants are reportedly are at the $16M range. Thus far, the negotiations have been moving along without any major setbacks, however; both sides are not going to completely get what they want, so a compromised needs to occur. The question is: which side will compromise the most to get a deal done? Based on the history of the Giants Management with contracts and the history of GM Dave Gettlemans somewhat hard stand on free agents. My gut tells me that if the Giants do agree to sign Beckham long term, it will be somewhere between $16.5 to $17.5 range for 5 years and not the $20M range. Again, negotiations could go south and the Giants could decide to use the franchise tag on Beckham after the 2018 season.