Of course he danced.
Of course it was captured on smartphone video.
Of course it made its way to social media in a matter of minutes.
What other way did you think Odell Beckham Jr. would celebrate agreeing to terms on the largest contract ever given to an NFL wide receiver? So it was shortly after practice on Monday, as word began to spread about the pending megadeal, that the short clip of Beckham and other wide receivers thumping to music in the Giants’ locker room made its way to teammate Sterling Shepard’s Instagram account.
“Money! Money! Money!” the song went.
Shortly after, with his mother and his agent flanking him, Beckham signed a five-year extension that, according to a source, could wind up paying him $95 million between now and the end of the 2023 season. There is a guarantee of $41 million with $65 million guaranteed against injury. Over the first three new seasons of the contract he will earn an average of close to $20 million per year. General manager Dave Gettleman, in a statement through the team, called it “generational money.”
While there had been talk about a new deal for Beckham going back as far as last year, negotiations did not begin in earnest until late July. For a contract with this much at stake for both parties, it was a relatively smooth and quick process.
“I never worried whether or not we would get it done,” Gettleman said. “I’m pleased because the litmus test for a contract is that neither side is ticked off before the ink can dry, and neither side should be ticked off. It’s a very fair deal.”
Beckham is scheduled to address the media on Tuesday. On Monday, through the team, he said it was hard to explain how he felt putting pen to paper.
“I don’t know if it’s a relief, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a combination of everything. You’ve worked all your life to get to this point and it’s finally here…It was just a time of patience and waiting and I knew that it would get done, it just was a matter of when, and I’m just so happy that it is finally done now.”
Two of the major questions the Giants had regarding their investment in Beckham have seemingly been answered in recent months. First they were concerned about his health after a fractured ankle required season-ending surgery last October. So far this summer in training camp Beckham has looked explosive in practices, although he has not played in any preseason games.
In fact, earlier in the day, Beckham was skying over cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the end zone to pull in a touchdown pass in practice, leaving Jenkins grumbling expletives at the time. Later, the sting of being beaten replaced by the recognition that Beckham will be able to make such plays against just about any other cornerback in the league, Jenkins gave a glowing review of Beckham.
“Oh yeah, he’s ready,” Jenkins said. “All I know is once Odell hits the field he’s going to be Odell Beckham Jr.”
The second hangup was Beckham’s maturity. The Giants were impressed by Beckham’s behavior of late, which includes his presence at the start of training camp rather than a holdout to get a deal such as this. Beckham and new Giants coach Pat Shurmur have developed a close relationship in short order, and it’s clear the Giants trust him to continue on his recent path of good choices both on and off the field. The distractions that he had become identified with over the years have been minimal.
“As I have said, I think Odell personally is moving in the right direction,” co-owner John Mara said in the team’s release. “He came to camp with a tremendous attitude, with a smile on his face and worked hard and reminded us of his unique abilities. He’s ready to have a great season and we’re ready for him to have a great season.”
His on-field attitude has been noticed as well.
“He’s a grinder,” Shepard told Newsday on Monday. “He’s gonna work hard every single day. He’s gonna bring the intensity at practice. If something doesn’t go his way he’s gonna do it again until he gets it right and that’s the type of guy you want to have on the field with you.”
Beckham never shied away from his desire to be the highest-paid receiver, a title that can be defined in several ways. The new contract appears to have eclipsed them all. Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown's $17 million annual salary was the benchmark for year-to-year pay. The five-year, $82.5 million contract that Tampa Bay's Mike Evans signed in March included the most guaranteed money for a wide receiver in NFL history at the time: $55 million.
Beckham’s deal blows both of those away and will pay him for what he is: One of the NFL’s elite receivers. The Giants selected Beckham with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Over his first three seasons, he recorded 288 receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was voted Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014. He played just four games in 2017 when he had 25 catches for 302 yards and three TDs.
“For me, it’s not going to change my goals that I have on the field,” Beckham said of the contract. “If anything, it just increased them even more. I just want to be able to come out and play football the way that I’ve always played, the way that I love it, and have some of my best years that I’ve ever had in my entire life. This is nothing but more motivation to go even harder and to do even better.”
Said co-owner Steve Tisch: “My hope for him and for us — and I know he feels the same — is for him to be remembered as one of the great Giants of all time.”
If that happens, the contract will definitely pass Gettleman’s litmus test. And there will be plenty more to dance about.