John Mara has gone out of his way to defend Odell Beckham Jr., but he finally seems to be running out of patience.
As he should be.
With Beckham in the news again for all the wrong reasons — this time after a video surfaced March 9 showing him in bed holding a brown cigarette next to a woman with a credit card and a white, powdery substance — the Giants’ president and co-owner used his most forceful language yet in suggesting that his team’s best receiver needs to shape up.
Or else he might not be a Giants receiver for much longer.
“I don’t know what was in that video exactly, but I’m tired of answering questions about Odell’s behavior and what the latest incident is,” Mara said Sunday before the start of the NFL’s spring meetings. “I think he knows what is expected of him.”
Mara often has defended Beckham when he has been in the middle of controversy, but he has ratcheted up the heat on the fifth-year player, who is in the final year of his rookie contract. Beckham has said he wants to become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, but Mara said now is not the time to entertain thoughts of an extension.
He wouldn’t even rule out the possibility that Beckham might not be on the roster in 2018.
“I can’t answer that one way or the other,” Mara said when asked if he can foresee Beckham not playing for the Giants next season. “We’re certainly not shopping him, if that’s what you’re asking. But when you’re coming off a season when you’re 3-13 and played as poorly as we played, I wouldn’t say anybody is untouchable.”
Would he listen to a trade offer?
“You always listen to those things,” Mara said, “but that’s not a scenario that I would like to see.”
What Mara would like to see is Beckham playing many more years for the Giants, but only if he can prove he is mature enough to handle being the face of the franchise and not continually becoming the subject of back-page headlines. Beckham has been unable to abide by those terms, so there will be a major slowdown in the team’s deliberations about a new deal.
“In terms of the contract, that will get done when it’s supposed to get done,” Mara said. “I still believe he’ll be able to show us what we expect of him, but again, it’s up to him.”
That could mean Beckham will be playing out the final year of his deal.
“I’d say that’s a possibility,” Mara said. “I don’t think we’ve made any determination on that just yet.”
Will there be a long-term contract in Beckham’s future?
“I think at some point,” he said, “but who knows?”
Beckham is a supremely talented athlete who has done wonderful things during games, elevating his craft to an art form. But there have been far too many times when he has pushed the envelope — from spearing Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, to taking an ill-advised trip to Florida a week before a playoff game, to punching a hole in the locker room wall in Green Bay, to pretending to be a dog urinating in the end zone.
It was telling, too, that Mara answered my question about whether he was tired of the questions associated with Beckham, or tired of the reasons for the questions, this way:
“I’m just sick of answering the questions,” he said. “You can draw your own conclusions from that.”
My conclusion: For now, Mara is unwilling to think about giving upward of $100 million in a long-term contract to a player who still hasn’t proved he can handle the responsibility that comes with it.