ORLANDO, Fla. — Giants owner John Mara said Sunday he’s sick of answering questions about Odell Beckham Jr., and who can blame him? Beckham’s name has been in the news, often for all the wrong reasons, and the Giants have plenty of other issues as they try and rebuild from the ashes of last year’s 3-13 season.
The bad news for Mara: Unless and until Beckham’s long-term future is resolved one way or the other, the questions won’t stop. The questions will only intensify in the days and weeks ahead.
They already have.
Not even 24 hours after Mara made his comments, there’s already plenty of chatter around the league that the Giants are ready to deal Beckham. There’s a report the Rams are interested. Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, a close friend of Beckham, is openly lobbying Cleveland general manager John Dorsey to swing a trade for the receiver.
This is only the start.
My sense is the Giants want to keep Beckham, and want to make a long-term commitment in the most-talented receiver they’ve ever had. But they also want to be sure that they can trust that a commitment of close to $100 million won’t come undone by Beckham’s inability to steer clear of controversy on and off the field.
That may be asking too much from a player with the kind of narcissistic tendencies Beckham has already shown, and a Giants organization that prides itself on stability and decorum simply might not be the right place for Beckham long-term.
Giants co-owner Steve Tisch told reporters Monday that there have been some preliminary discussions with Beckham about a long-term deal, although there’s nothing close to getting done. Mara’s comments from the day before may have been intended as a warning shot to Beckham that he needs to keep his house in order, especially after the fallout from the release of a video last week in which Beckham was seen holding a brown cigarette while in bed with a woman seen with a credit card and a white, powdery substance.
The Giants are clearly fed up with the negative publicity surrounding many of Beckham’s exploits — see: taking a trip to South Beach a week before the 2016 playoffs, punching a hole in the locker room wall at Lambeau Field, pretending to be a dog urinating in the end zone after a touchdown against the Eagles last season, etc. But they also know that you simply can’t find the kind of talent Beckham has, and that he is still young enough to be a part of a contending team once new general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur can put the roster back in order.
Beckham reportedly has told friends that he won’t step foot on the field next season unless he has a long-term deal — with the Giants or any team where he might land in a trade. That means there’s a good chance he won’t play on the final year of his rookie contract, which is scheduled to pay $8.459 million in 2018.
The Giants might wind up trying to call his bluff in the event they can’t hammer out a long-term contract, and things could get even uglier than they are now. But Mara has been around for dozens of contract impasses in his time with the team, and most of those problems have been resolved amicably.
There’s every reason to believe the Giants’ ultimate goal is to keep Beckham long-term, and that they’re willing to consider a new contract. But they don’t seem in a hurry at this point, mostly because they can’t yet trust that Beckham can avoid the kind of turmoil that winds up splashed across the back page.
One way or another, the situation will resolve itself, whether Beckham plays for the Giants or not. Mara’s preference is to keep the receiver, but if a blockbuster deal comes along that he can’t refuse, then he’ll consider moving Beckham.
If not, then the waiting game will continue.
And so will the questions.