In the end, after all the dramatic twists and turns, all the doubts and uncertainty, and all the speculation that this day might never come to pass, Odell Beckham Jr. got what he wanted.
And so did the Giants.
The most athletically gifted receiver in today’s NFL has agreed to a massive new contract, a five-year, $95-million deal that makes him the highest-paid wideout in football. He has earned the right to make that money, having vastly outplayed his rookie contract with a series of spectacular seasons before he suffered a fractured ankle that ended his 2017 season in October.
But with the new contract comes new responsibilities, and Beckham must now earn the continued trust of the Giants’ organization and — just as importantly — the fans.
And that means no more nonsense.
No more hysterical outbursts on the sidelines. Or on the field.
No more pretending to be a dog in the end zone.
No more putting himself in compromising positions the way he did when he appeared in a tasteless video in the offseason.
It’s time that Beckham conduct himself the way a franchise player should, and that’s to make news on the field with brilliant play, not to invite scorn off the field with questionable behavior.
Beckham’s deal now ties him to the Giants through 2023, which is an eternity in a sport in which turnover is often brutally swift. He has the chance to break every receiving record in franchise history and the chance to win a Super Bowl.
His dazzling array of catches — many of them of the spectacular one-handed variety — have already become an unmistakable part of the team’s identity. But so has his penchant for acting out on the field and on the sidelines…and in off-field situations in which he too often veers off in directions that test the bounds of good taste.
His most recent brush with controversy, when he appeared in the video that went viral in March, so agitated team president John Mara that he left open the possibility that Beckham’s behavior was egregious enough to warrant consideration of a trade. In his heart of hearts, Mara never intended to deal away the talented receiver, and the swirl of speculation that followed his public comments at the NFL owners meetings in March were more than he had expected or even wanted.
Mara knew then that he wanted to keep Beckham long-term, because you don’t trade away Hall of Fame caliber players unless there is an overwhelming reason to do so. But Mara also knew he needed to send a message to Beckham that would resonate with the receiver, that would make it clear that there would be no new deal unless he showed he could be trusted not to make any more public slip-ups and thus become more accountable.
Beckham didn’t make a peep, he didn’t hold out of training camp in a bid to force negotiations and did everything asked of him, up to and including participation in contact drills. He hasn't appeared in any preseason games — a smart move for all concerned, since it benefited no one to expose him to further unnecessary injury — and he bided his time.
The Giants quietly negotiated with Beckham’s agent, with no news leaks or innuendo from either side that suggested acrimony over potential terms of a new deal. The Giants vowed that any deal would be struck when the time was right, and Beckham himself parroted that line when he addressed reporters about his contract situation.
The time was indeed right, and the deal is done. Beckham gets the long-term deal he coveted, and the Giants agreed on a number that was more palatable than Beckham’s original demand of being paid as high as the league’s top quarterbacks — all of whom are in the $20-million plus stratosphere.
That’s called a win-win.
Now it’s up to Beckham to show he can handle the responsibility of living up to investment the Giants have made in him.