EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. wants to be paid a salary commensurate with his ability, and his star power. Which he should. New York Giants co-owner John Mara wants to pay him, which he should, since Beckham is the most talented player the Giants have had since Lawrence Taylor.
After hearing from both Beckham and Mara Friday, the only question is when. Mara said it would happen at the “appropriate time” and indicated it was possible a deal would be done by the time training camp opens in 2018.
It makes sense for both sides to wait.
Why does it make sense for Beckham to wait?
It makes sense because, while he won’t end up as the game’s highest-paid player, if he is patient his reward at the end will be a richer contract than the Giants would likely offer him today.
Dan Graziano of ESPN made this point on ESPN Radio Friday night, and I agree with him. Guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins, Terrelle Pryor and Alshon Jeffery are all headed to free agency. Beckham is a better player — far better, in fact — than all of them. Let them get paid, let them set the market, then use that as leverage.
By average annual salary, the top 15 contract in the NFL belong to quarterbacks. No. 15 on that list is Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins at $19.25 million annually. Beckham is a better, more impactful player than Tannehill will ever be. Quarterback or not. That means $20 million or more annually isn’t out of the question.
Provided Beckham is patient.
Good things come to those who wait, and Beckham can wait. He knows now that the Giants are absolutely committed to paying him. He’s making $1.8 million this year, paltry for his talent but not chump change. And there is that $5 million or so he will put in the bank from his Nike deal. So, he isn’t struggling.
Why does it make sense for the Giants to wait?
This is not about the Giants needing to see Beckham mature or prove more on the field. Mara made that clear Friday when he said “we’re not asking him to prove anything at this point.”
It’s simple business.
The Giants, per Spotrac, have roughly $5.4 million in salary cap space. Mara said Friday that “salary cap-wise, there’s a way to work it out, yes.”
That doesn’t mean it’s a palatable way for the Giants. It likely includes approaching stars about re-structuring contracts, or cutting players they really want to keep.
The Giants have Beckham under contract for another year. They have the franchise tag in their back pocket if they need to, or choose to, use it.
The Giants have players like Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh to consider. By the end of the season they will have an idea what they want to do with the roster, how they want to clear space, and how much it is going to cost.
Mara and Beckham respect each other.
That much is obvious. And it will help this get done without rancor, or with as little rancor as possible.
“He’s a very smart young man and a very talented player. One of the things I’ve said about him before is that he does so many wonderful things off the field that nobody knows about,” Mara said of Beckham. “He’s somebody that we want here for a long time.”
Beckham said Friday that holding out was not part of the plan because “I don’t have time,” and showed his affection for Mara.
“Every time I run up to him and he smiles, he’s asking, ‘How are you doing?’ It’s just a good vibe I get from him, so it was good to see him today,” Beckham said.
Now, hopefully at least until negotiations start and potential contract numbers become public, we can stop talking about this.