Posted on June 9, 2017, by Travis Pulver
An injury kept him out of the first four games of his rookie season, but once Odell Beckham Jr. got his feet wet in the NFL one thing was clear. This kid was going to be a star. Now, with three years under his belt, something has become clear. He is undoubtedly one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
Thanks to his rookie contract, he is going to be one of the most underpaid players in the NFL this coming season at just $1.8 million. The Giants have exercised his fifth-year option and will pay him better in 2018, but he will still be grossly underpaid at $8.459 million.
With 288 receptions, 4,122 yards, and 35 touchdowns to his name, you would think the decision to extend him would be a no-brainer. Giants owner John Mara recently said they want him to be a Giants for life, but for some odd reason, the team has yet to do anything to make that a reality.
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The reason why is clear—Beckham is under contract for two more years. Why pay him more than you must?
The collective bargaining agreement included a rookie wage scale to keep owners from paying draft flops millions of dollars—with the understanding that money would then go to veterans. But it also allowed owners to enjoy the services of players like Beckham at a bargain rate for a few years.
That hasn’t stopped some teams from offering players new contracts early. Pittsburgh did with Antonio Brown, and the Patriots did with Rob Gronkowski. Both were paid better than their rookie contracts, but they still ended up being a steal for their respective teams.
Brown has had over 100 receptions a season in each of the last four seasons but has only made about $3.6 million in base salary over that time frame. Factor in the $20.09 million he was paid in restructuring bonuses and his $2.5 million roster bonus in 2013, and he still barely averaged $6 million a season.
To put that into perspective, Terrelle Pryor is going to make $6 million this coming season. A converted quarterback is going to make as much as Brown averaged over the last four years.
So—yeah, maybe the Giants would be smart to give into Beckham’s passive-aggressive demands and extend him. Then again, Brown got better with each passing season and grew into his stardom. Beckham has been one almost as soon as he stepped on the field. His body of work over the last three seasons warrants a much better pay raise than what Brown received.
If the Giants were to extend him now, they would not end up saving themselves any money. His play is already among the best in the league and he’ll expect his salary to reflect that. That would mean at least $14 million a season just to be included among the top five.
He is easily one of the top five receivers in the NFL and definitely deserves to be paid accordingly. Many would say he is the best and should be accordingly. Antonio Brown currently has the highest average salary at $17 million/season.
It’s easy to see why they may not want to give him an extension now. However, if they don’t, it will only end up costing the team more money later. As the salary cap rises and the top players at every position will demand more money. Assuming Beckham continues to play like he has, his contract expectations will also rise.
Extend him now, and the Giants will still get him at a bargain base for this year and the next. They will also be able to reduce the salary cap hit they’ll take from his signing bonus.
But were they to do so, would it look like they are condoning his recent behavior? Would it look like star players can get away with making passive-aggressive digs at the coaching staff, skipping OTAs, and doing his own thing rather than working out with the team?
Some fans may see it that way. But none of them will care as long as Beckham continues to make circus catches and the Giants win games.