Despite lingering uncertainty about Odell Beckham Jr.’s contract, it’s a lock that things will work out and the superstar wide receiver will remain in a Giants’ uniform.
For a long, long time.
So says one of Beckham’s closest friends.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that things will work out for him,” third-year wide receiver Sterling Shepard told Newsday after Tuesday’s minicamp practice. “I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as that guy, and I’ve never seen a guy that wants it as much as him.”
Beckham is in the final year of his rookie contract, and is due to make $8.5 million in 2018. But with almost all the star players from his draft class of 2014 having signed new deals — many of them worth twice that much — Beckham remains in limbo. He showed up for this week’s mini-camp, and took part in individual drills and some half-speed team periods. But despite being cleared to return from an ankle injury he suffered early last season, he did not participate in full-speed team sessions.
Not a problem, according to Shepard. When all is said and done, Beckham will be out there when the games start.
“Everything is always working out for that dude,” Shepard said. “It’s like he’s got some special power or something. But he works for it, and that’s what it comes down to. It’s the guys that want it the most that are going to work hard for it. That’s all I’ve ever seen out of him since I’ve known him.”
Bottom line: “There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be back, and you’ll be seeing [No.] 13 light it up in the stadium.”
Getting from here to there will take some doing, though.
The Giants have shown no urgency in getting a new deal done, and there’s even the possibility they will want Beckham to play out the final year of his deal. But with so many new contracts being awarded to players with less talent than Beckham, he shouldn’t consider such an option. Even if it means holding out of training camp, or else not participating fully in practice, there’s no way he should step onto the field for the opener against the Jaguars unless he has a new deal in hand.
Beckham hasn’t given any public indication of what he might do; in fact, he hasn’t spoken to reporters since being injured in Week 5 last season, although he may talk this week.
Of course, he did set off a firestorm of controversy when a video of him in bed with a woman who appeared to be doing drugs was posted in March, enraging team owner John Mara and leading to speculation Beckham would be traded.
But the Giants never intended to trade him, nor do they plan to do so now.
Beckham has at least met the team in the middle — showing up for part of the offseason conditioning program and showing up this week. And if you don’t think a more strident reaction from him was possible, consider that several other high-profile players with contract issues have boycotted mandatory mini-camps. That includes Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who has three years remaining on a five-year, $71.3 million deal, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Raiders pass rusher Khalil Mack and Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
Beckham has opted not to turn up that kind of heat, especially not when he’s coming off a season-ending injury and when the Giants have a new coach in Pat Shurmur. But given Beckham’s value to the team, and given how much better he makes Eli Manning as a quarterback, there’s no question he’s an essential player for this team.
Maybe the most essential.
This isn’t the first contract stalemate the Giants have dealt with, and it certainly won’t be the last. But it’s clearly the most important, and anything less than a long-term resolution will suffice.
Time to get a deal done.