When it comes to Odell Beckham Jr., let’s be clear about one thing:
Whether it’s with the New York Giants or another team, Beckham is going to get a very nice football contract.
Naturally, the Big Blue faithful would love it if Beckham remains a Giant for life and that the team makes a move now to take care of the receiver, who according to a NFL Network report is leaning against stepping onto a football field until he has a new deal in hand.
There’s only one problem, other than the concern about Beckham’s off-field antics (which, by the way, would disappear if he took a page out of former Yankees legend Derek Jeter’s book and banned the use of cell phones or any type of recording devices), is money.
The Giants, per NFLPA records have $5,195,606 of cap space (money that likely doesn’t include the team’s signing of defensive back Michael Thomas to a two-year deal Monday).
They need to come up with money to pay Beckham, ensure they have enough for their draft class (Over the Cap estimates they’ll need $9,754,014 of space, but in reality, due to the Top 51 rule, they’re probably looking at closer to $7.2 million for the picks).
They also need to leave enough money for in-season emergencies.
All of that sounds like a tall order, but here’s one way the Giants can make it all work.
Get Brandon Marshall’s contract off the books
I get asked a lot why receiver Brandon Marshall is still on the Giants roster.
You can’t discount that maybe he’s in the Giants plans, but I would be surprised if that were the case given how he struggled to connect with Eli Manning last year.
The more likely scenario is that Marshall is probably not ready to pass a physical yet. While the Giants could indeed trim his contract if they wanted to regardless, they would have to give him an injury settlement that maxes out at $1.5 million and hope that another team signs Marshall to a contract to nullify that settlement.
(This is what happened when the Seahawks released Richard Sherman, who was rehabbing from an injury.)
If Marshall does get released and isn’t picked up, his $5,156,250 cap savings (which by the way would likely go to getting the rookie class signed) stands to drop to $3,656,250.
The Giants have time on their side with Marshall. First, the rookie class doesn’t need to be signed until the start of training camp at the latest (they can’t report to training camp without a signed deal).
More importantly, for those worried about a Beckham holdout this spring, Beckham likely wasn’t going to be cleared to do football activity, anyway.
For those worried that Beckham might fall behind if he stays away as Pat Shurmur and his staff install the new offense, don’t be.
In 2015, now former defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul missed the spring activities after he was given the franchise tag designation, but the coaching staff, which at the time was installing a new defensive system under then defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, made sure to send Pierre-Paul whatever material they could so that he wouldn’t fall too far behind in learning the system.
The same scenario would likely play out with Beckham, though in his case, any mandatory time he misses, such as the team’s June mandatory minicamp, would likely result in a fine if he was absent since he is under contract.
Lower Beckham’s base salary and give him a five-year extension
Beckham is due to make $8.459 million this year, money which is now guaranteed for 2018 and which is 100 percent base salary.
To lower that guaranteed base and ensure Beckham still gets his guaranteed money, simply make that $8.459 million part of a signing bonus (which is guaranteed money).
What I’d do is I’d lower Beckham’s base salary to the minimum amount for a player with 4-6 years of experience ($790K) and make that fully guaranteed.
The remaining $7.669 million shaved off his 2018 base would then be rolled into a $20 million signing bonus ($1 million more than Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s signing bonus).
That signing bonus, would then begin prorating in 2018 at a rate of $4 million per year, which means Beckham’s new cap number would be $4.79 million, a $3.669 million savings.
I would also then guarantee Beckham’s future base salaries in 2019 and 2020 and have roster bonuses in the final two years of his deal as part of his guaranteed money.
If this approach sounds familiar, it’s because it is very similar to what the Giants did with receiver Victor Cruz, who by the way, skipped the team’s offseason program while he was waiting for a new deal.
In 2013, Cruz signed a five-year, $43 million contract extension that included a $9.5 million signing bonus.
The Giants lowered Cruz’s 2013 base salary that year to $630,000. The signing bonus was prorated right away, with $1.9 million of that bonus kicking in for the 2013 season, thus raising Cruz’s first year cap figure to a very modest $2.53 million.
If you want to know why the Giants won’t trade Odell Beckham, these are Eli Manning’s stats with and without Odell on the field over the last three seasons: pic.twitter.com/yCynKTU3UI— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) March 26, 2018
Cruz’s base salaries then rose once the new contract officially kicked in starting in 2014, with the biggest base salaries due in 2016 (which he restructured) through 2018 (the 2017 and 2018 years not being fulfilled since Cruz was cut last offseason.
What about the timing?
Based on various media accounts, team owner John Mara sounded as though he’s reached the end of his rope with Beckham and his off-field antics that have made it to the media.
But Mara, who told reporters that no one on the roster is untouchable (well, except for quarterback Eli Manning who has a no-trade clause in his contract), is not one who will make a potential franchise changing business decision based on emotion.
Mara’s comments to the press come as little surprise as for him to have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to what was going on would not be a good look for the team.
But for the reasons mentioned above, there is no rush to get Beckham’s deal done right now.
That’s a good thing as it will give both the receiver and the new coaching regime more of a chance to get on the same page to ensure that both parties have a chance to live happily ever after.