OBJ’s Production and Marketability Guarantees More Money – But Will He Cash Check in New York?
WR Odell Beckham Jr. made headlines over the weekend by expressing his desire to be the highest paid player in the NFL. Beckham wants to change the way players make their money in one of America’s most physically violent sports. He’s of the mindset that the position of a player shouldn’t determine the amount of cash they can collect.
Does OBJ really want to be the highest paid player in the league? Of course he does. Why is that a problem? Beckham expressed his self-worth – a value he believes his play and marketability warrant.
Will he be the highest paid player? No – because he’s not a Quarterback.
According to NFL.com, the biggest contracts in 2017 all belong to Quarterbacks. Of the top 25 richest contracts in 2017, only six are non-QBs. Five were defensive players – one was a receiver. His name is Antonio Brown – but I’ll discuss him later.
Money Outside of Contract
Beckham will never sign the NFL’s richest contract. Beckham will, however, make a ton of money throughout his NFL career. A lot of money will come from endorsements. Currently, his endorsement deal with Nike puts more money in his bank account than the Giants.
As long as Beckham continues to make captivating plays in the NFL, he’ll continue to acquire more endorsement deals. More endorsements means more money. He doesn’t have to have the biggest contract to be among the wealthiest players in the league. Ask Cam Newton – who doesn’t have the biggest contract – but has a ton in endorsements that place him among the leagues overall wealthiest players.
The hardest position to address in the NFL is the Quarterback – thus it is the richest. That is a hurdle even Beckham can’t leap. It’s the nature of the business. But, as the old saying goes – “Shoot for the moon, you’ll be sure to land among the stars.” Beckham is a superstar shooting for the moon. He won’t land on a star – but wherever he lands he’ll be surrounded by dead presidents. And Ben Franklins.
Carr Set the Bar
Derek Carr set the bar heading into 2017, becoming the highest paid player at the most valuable position in football. Carr’s contract reset the market, as seasoned QBs like Matt Stafford will probably top his salary and bump the number up.
But this is a yearly occurrence. Last season, the Colts made their signal caller, Andrew Luck, the highest paid player in football. In a few seasons, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will reset the market if their production remains constant. Same can be said for Dak Prescott after a few more solid seasons in Dallas.
Either way, a QB will always be the league’s highest paid player. Beckham knows that, but it won’t stop the guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve from voicing his opinion. Look for Beckham to be motivated to pile up catches, yards, and touchdown en route to his new contract.
By letting his value be known, he can influence the amount of money offered to him. It’s a common – and genius – business move.
Elite is Expensive
Beckham is an elite level talent and is ascending to the top of his position. His maturity and lack of emotional regulation is the only complaint many of his critics harp on. His play and uncanny athleticism on the field is unquestionable.
Maturity is a process – some players enter the league with it. For other, it ends up being the catalyst for shorter careers. Beckham’s development this season playing with Brandon Marshall – another player known for his emotional play – will be a reflection of how much he’s matured over the past season.
Beckham will always play with intensity. He’ll always play with fire. If he figures out how to use his emotions to inspire teammates, he can be that much more valuable. If he lets his emotions dictate his behavior, his total potential can be compromised and he could alienate some of his teammates if he is on an emotional rampage.
That’s a chance you take with OBJ – and his numbers show it’s a risk worth taking.
Let’s look at the numbers and compare Beckham’s first three seasons to some of the league’s top receivers.
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Beckham and Evans were drafted the same year, so their numbers are reflective of the last three seasons. It’s easy to see that Beckham has clearly been more dominant in his first three years compared to a fellow draftee from the same class selected in the top 5 and two of the most dominant players at the position.
Pretty good, right?
Below is a chart comparing OBJ’s numbers of the past three seasons to the last three seasons of Julio Jones and Antonio Brown.
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Averages are Telling
Beckham doesn’t lead in any category, so how is he worth being paid as the top player of his position?
OBJ, Julio Jones, and Antonio Brown all have Pro Bowl/Super Bowl QBs throwing the football. Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, and Big Ben Roethlisberger each know what to do behind center – so for the sake of this argument, the QBs are not a hindrance.
So how does Beckham compare to Jones and Brown?
For starters, Jones’ build makes him a wrecking ball on the outside. Jones stands 6’3″ 220 and utilizes his size to his advantage. He’s an imposing, athletic receiver who can use either his strength or athleticism to beat defenders.
OBJ has to rely on his elusiveness to break tackles and find space.
Brown is 5’10” 181. Beckham is 5’11” 198. A heavier build, but both rely on speed and agility to make eye-popping plays.
Beckham had 694 less yards than Brown – but had 83 less receptions. Beckham’s averages suggest that with 83 more receptions, he would have had an additional 1,187 yards. Brown played 4 more regular season games. Beckham’s YPG suggests that in 4 more games, he would have had 384 more yards. Both Beckham and Brown tied for touchdowns at 35.
So, with an estimated 1,571 more yards in an equal amount of games/receptions, Beckham – over the last three seasons – could have potentially had 5,693 total yards. That would be 877 more yards than Brown. And probably would have meant more touchdowns.
And Jones? Brown had 48 more receptions than Jones. Using Jones averages, he would have added 724 more yards with 48 catches. Brown played in 2 more games than Jones over the past three seasons. Jones average YPG would have bumped his total up to 940 more potential yards. His potential total would add up to 5,813 total yards. That would be just 120 more yards than Beckham.
For someone four inches smaller and twenty-two pounds lighter, Beckham is capable of putting up Julio Jones-type numbers. Beckham had 15 more touchdowns than Jones over the last three seasons.
Yes, these are hypothetical stats. But the basis of the numbers is centered around each players averages.
With all things equal, I’m taking Beckham. I’ll deal with the emotional instability if it means nearly equal production and much more points. Beckham can do both.
Production Will Increase, Will Mara Pay?
Beckham is elite – and elite players get better each and every season. I expect Beckham will do the same. If he out produced some of the league’s top players in their first three years, what numbers could Beckham produce over the next 5+ years?
Beckham’s statement put the Giants – and the rest of the NFL – on notice. He wants to be paid. Giants’ Owner John Mara has already said he plans to pay for Beckham’s services – but he’s not in a hurry. Why would he be? He still has his superstar receiver on a cheap contract for two more seasons.
Beckham knows this. Unlike Aaron Donald – drafted one pick after OBJ in 2014 – he showed up to training camp to honor his commitment to the team. He doesn’t want his contract to be an issue heading into this season. He wants to win. Showing up and showing out in training camp likely increased the number Mara will offer – whenever that day comes.
The Giants proved they’ll spend money. They opened the checkbook last season to address needs on the defensive side of the football. Janoris Jenkins and Oliver Vernon both were paid handsomely and were productive last season. Jenkins accounted for 3 interceptions and Vernon registered 8.5 sacks on the season. Not to discredit their production, but Beckham accounted for 60 points throughout the year.
Beckham’s not even close to being among the top paid players on the team. But he is arguably the most talented player on the New York Football Giants’ roster.
Who are the top paid players on the roster? The top 3 salaries on the team include Manning, Vernon, and Jenkins in that order. Two of the three joined the team last season. Manning’s salary is understandable – he has the hardware to back it up.However, the jersey you’re most likely to see in the crowd on Sundays in East Rutherford is going to be Number 13.
People show up to Giants game to watch Beckham do what he does. After the greatest catch in NFL history, he garnered that kind of audience. Giants fans – and opposing team’s fans – show up hoping to witness a spectacular OBJ highlight. The odds of a Beckham play happening on game day is very high.
He deserves to be among the NFL’s highest paid receivers. That day is coming. Will it be in the Big Apple? If so, the deal will likely be reached before Beckham’s contract expires. Mara cannot afford to let Beckham reach free agency. A bidding war for OBJ is not one Mara will win.
Unless he offers to make Beckham the NFL’s highest paid player.
But that won’t happen, right?
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Stats referenced at NFL.com