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The case for extending Odell Beckham now

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Here is one way it could be done

Los Angeles Chargers v New York Giants Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

This is going to be a big offseason for the New York Giants. With a new general manager and a new head coach, the foundation of the next era of Giants football will start to be built over the coming months. Most likely that’s going to involve the drafting of a quarterback but perhaps the most pressing question will be what to do with the star receiver he would throw to — Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham will be entering 2018 on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. He has publicly made it known he would like to sign a long-term deal with the Giants and he would like that deal to be done as soon as possible.

While there’s been some hesitation to give Beckham the type of big-money deal he’s seeking immediately, there are a lot of pros to getting an extension done this offseason.

Any new deal with Beckham is going to make him the highest-paid wide receiver in the league — there’s really no getting around that. It’s going to be better for the Giants to make Beckham the highest-paid receiver now than to wait out his fifth-year option and possibly a franchise tag, which would push this contract extension into the 2020 season. In that time, the following wide receivers will be ending their current contracts and looking for new ones: Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Devante Parker, Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas, and Tyreek Hill. Even Sterling Shepard will see his deal expire after 2019 and it’s safe to assume the Giants would rather not negotiate two receiver contract extensions in the same offseason.

Not all of these receivers are going to get top of the market deals, but all have the potential to reset the market for a Beckham deal, especially if one or more gets to the actual free market — just wait until the deal Landry will get as a free agent this offseason.

Right now the Giants could tell Beckham he’s on the level of Antonio Brown, who currently has the biggest contract at the position, but it’s going to be much harder to tell Beckham he’s not better than the likes of Evans, Diggs, and Thomas — three receivers who assuredly will be among the highest paid with new deals.

Between the other upcoming wide receiver contracts and the possibility of Beckham having another season worth big money, the Giants could end up costing themselves more money in the future by waiting. There’s always the possibility Beckham doesn’t fully recover from his ankle injury, but if there’s a probability put on this, it has to be more likely Beckham will cost more money overall for a contract in 2019 than 2018.

The Giants also have an advantage in this case that Beckham wants a deal now. If he sets the market now at his request, he can have little objection if future deals come close or surpass his contract’s value. There is always a chance Beckham has a few years left on this deal, sees the amount of money poured into the position with a rising cap, and wants a new deal. But if that’s the case, it’s likely he’s continued on a level of play among the top tier of receivers and when that time comes it might not be the worst problem for the Giants to have.

So then what would a possible extension for Beckham look like this offseason? That’s not exactly an easy question to answer, but we can give it a try thanks to some tools at Over The Cap. We can work with the last two big contracts given out to Brown and Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins. Brown set the bar with a $17 million average salary, though there’s little guaranteed in his contract because of how the Pittsburgh Steelers historically structure their deals. Hopkins’s $81 million extension included $49 million in practical guarantees. Those will be two points we’ll either have to match or surpass.

What I came up with is a six-year deal worth $102.5 million with $50 million guaranteed, an additional $9 million in practical guarantees and another $2.5 million likely in terms of roster bonuses, and a $30 million signing bonus. By average salary, it comes out to $17.1 million over the full contract and an average of $20.5 million in new money over the five extension years after 2018.

That, of course, is a lot of money, but what’s going to work here is how the deal is structured. I will admit I am neither an agent nor executive, so this is not going to be perfect by any means, but in an attempt to get the most out of the Giants’ current cap situation, the structure could look something like this:

Potential Beckham Extension Structure

Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Roster Bonus Cap Number
Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Roster Bonus Cap Number
2018 $2,000,000 $6,000,000 $8,000,000
2019 $13,000,000 $6,000,000 $6,000,000 $25,000,000
2020 $12,000,000 $6,000,000 $3,000,000 $21,000,000
2021 $10,000,000 $6,000,000 $2,500,000 $18,500,000
2022 $11,000,000 $6,000,000 $17,000,000
2023 $13,000,000 $13,000,000
Total $61,000,000 $30,000,000 $11,500,000 $102,500,000

Here are the important points with this type of contract structure:

  • The first year of the deal saves the Giants nearly half a million dollars from Beckham’s fifth-year option of $8,459,000. This would be important in an offseason when the Giants are trying to make more moves to improve the team in free agency. A Beckham extension does not have to mean more money in Year 1 of the deal.
  • The three most expensive years of the contract will come in years 2, 3, and 4 of the No. 2 overall pick’s rookie deal. If that pick is a quarterback, it’s likely he’ll take over in 2019 with the Giants moving on from Eli Manning one way or another. Getting out from Manning’s contract in 2019 would open up $17 million in cap space. That’s room to get in this Beckham deal, a Landon Collins extension — even a top safety salary will be much less than that of a top-tier wide receiver — and a bump in salary in Year 2 for a free agent signing like Andrew Norwell. Arguably the best assets in football is a productive quarterback on his rookie deal. Take a look at last year’s No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. His level of play has not yet been established, but he’ll cost the Chicago Bears $6.7 million, $7.9 million, and $9.2 million on the cap over the next three seasons. Consider Jimmy Garoppolo just got an average of $27.5 million from the San Francisco 49ers and Kirk Cousins could exceed $30 million in free agency and it’s clear a team should do everything it can to take advantage of building a strong team around the steal of a quarterback’s rookie deal.
  • In that vein, the cap hits on Beckham’s deal decrease when the quarterback would be in his fifth and sixth seasons. That covers the possibility of a fifth-year option and the first year of a large extension. Even in the possibility Beckham would want a second extension by this point, there’s the chance to salary cap has risen enough that fitting both quarterback and Beckham contracts won’t be as difficult.
  • Over $50 million guaranteed may seem like a lot, but it’s really not if you consider what it could cost the Giants to push this commitment back about as far as possible. Say the Giants want to let Beckham play out on his fifth-year option ($8.5 million) and franchise him for the $2019 season. The tag could cost around $15.4 million, which would be the current average of the top-five wide receiver salaries. That’s already guaranteeing Beckham $23.9 million for two years. Now say the Giants franchise Beckham one more time in 2020. That could cost about $19.24 million, which would be 125 percent of Beckham’s 2019 salary. In that case, the Giants would be giving Beckham over $43 million without even getting to the big money contract extension yet. It’s also possible a number like $50 million guaranteed would hold as a top of the market, something that could appease Beckham as his average annual salary is possibly eclipsed by other recievers.

This contract would run through 2023 and Beckham’s age-31 season. That would allow the Giants to work out another deal at age-32, which could be past his prime, but could also mean there’s more than a few years left for someone as physically talented as Beckham. But if Beckham’s production were to tail off after age-30, it would be better for those years to be at the end of a contract instead of the middle of one that takes him through his mid-30’s.

Right now Beckham is the Giants’ best player and both sides have expressed interest in a long-term deal getting done. The question looks more like when than if. There is a case for waiting it out, but there’s a much stronger one for getting it done now.