The million-dollar question for the Giants this offseason may in fact come down to millions of dollars.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s decision to skip the Giants’ voluntary OTA workouts during the past two-and-a-half weeks is “directly related to his desire for a new deal,” according to ESPN.
The network cites sources who say the 24-year-old wide receiver would like to replace his rookie contract, presumably with one that puts him in the upper tier of salaries for his position and not, as is currently the case, making about one third of the money he will earn as a Nike spokesman in 2017.
Beckham still has two years left on his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $1.7 million this season and more than $8 million in 2018 after the Giants picked up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason. That’s small change compared with some of the big contracts throughout the NFL, including Beckham’s buddy Antonio Brown of the Steelers, who recently signed a four-year, $68-million deal with $19 million guaranteed and a $19-million signing bonus.
Head coach Ben McAdoo has avoided questions about Beckham’s whereabouts during the OTAs and on Wednesday wide receiver coach Adam Henry — who also was Beckham’s position coach at LSU — had little to say about his star pupil.
“I just coach who’s here,’’ Henry said. “When he’s here, he does great work, but I coach who’s here.”
Beckham still is expected to be on hand for next week’s mandatory minicamp, which would prevent the Giants from fining him. The OTAs he has been missing are voluntary. However, players in the past have been present at such events in body if not spirit. Sore ankles or nagging hamstrings can often mysteriously pop up in players who are unhappy with their business situation and they’ll spend the three-day camp watching from the sideline and doing little else.
On Tuesday, at a Giants Town Hall event in Manhattan, co-owner John Mara told fans he wants Beckham to be a Giant for the rest of his career. Right now, though, the Giants aren’t necessarily bound to offer that kind of a contract. Beyond the option year next season, the Giants can use the franchise tag on Beckham — a costly but not impossible scenario — for 2019 and even again in 2020.
It is unlikely that the situation will reach that kind of boiling point, though the Giants have had some tense negotiations in the past with the likes of Plaxico Burress, Osi Umenyiora and even Eli Manning.