EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham Jr.’s presence this spring comes with a purpose. It’s not simply for show, to learn the new offense or for the extra work. He can get the latter at his offseason home in California if he so pleased.
Beckham is out to prove that the New York Giants can trust their star wide receiver, and that he’s willing to buy into the program of the new regime in hopes of landing a new long-term deal. It seems to be working.
Beckham is attending the start of the Giants’ Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Monday. It’s right in line with his approach all spring. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver was there for the start of the voluntary offseason program in March and attended the team’s voluntary minicamp last month after skipping most of spring workouts last year.
Beckham has been at the facility for a good chunk of the offseason. Even when he wasn’t, he’s sent videos of his workouts and rehab sessions to the team.
These are all positive signs as we sit here in late-May, with training camp just over two months away. The Giants wanted Beckham present this spring to show his dedication and see first-hand how he has progressed after breaking his ankle in October. They got what they wanted.
What Beckham wants now is a new contract. This is no secret, and this was a premeditated approach this spring aimed to prove he’s capable of being a leader and trusted member of the team. Again, mission accomplished. Whether it pays off with the lucrative new contract he so desperately desires remains to be seen. There has yet to be any serious negotiations, according to a source.
"I wouldn't say sense of urgency. The contract will get done when it's supposed to get done," co-owner John Mara said earlier this month, before adding this isn’t the Giants’ first contract negotiation. "I think that is the [general manager] Dave Gettleman line. I think I'm going to adopt that. All spring, all summer, as long as it takes."
At least the situation continues to trend in the right direction after a few bumps in the road – there was a troubling video from a night out in France back in March followed by the team saying it will listen to offers at the NFL annual meetings -- earlier this year. Mara recently said he’s hopeful Beckham would remain with the franchise that drafted him for many years to come.
The relationship between Beckham and new coach Pat Shurmur is off to an encouraging start. That much is apparent. Shurmur likes what he’s seen and heard from his star receiver and Beckham is buying what his new coach is selling. They’re on the same page.
It began with a sitdown between the two in Los Angeles earlier this year and has continued this spring. They text and talk regularly, according to Shurmur.
“It’s very encouraging. I’ve developed a really nice relationship with him," Shurmur told reporters Sunday before throwing the first pitch at the Mets games, via Newsday. "We’re very open and honest about everything Giants and everything Odell. And so I’m just looking forward to him being there. He’s not quite finished with his rehab, but there’s still a lot to be learned by just watching what’s going on.”
Beckham, 25, broke his right ankle last October and has still not been cleared to practice. He worked on the side with a trainer during the team’s first minicamp of the year last month, although he did sneak in one non-contact individual drill.
He’s making progress. Beckham has been running and cutting. He’s been running routes during training in Los Angeles and they are encouraged with where he’s at in the process just under four months before the start of the season. Beckham and the Giants expect him to be at 100 percent by the start of the season.
There is plenty of time between now and then, and there is a monumental difference between rehabbing and participating in live drills. It seems unlikely after speaking to sources close to Beckham and the Giants this year that he will risk taking part in live periods or scrimmages before he’s paid. Risking somewhere in the range of $60 million for the $8.5 million he’s scheduled to earn this season is bad business.
Beckham, 25, is currently scheduled to play this season on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. He suffered a pair of serious leg injuries last year while making $1.8 million.
This offseason Beckham has watched as many of the top receivers from his 2014 draft class have gotten paid. He’s noticed. The average per year salaries of Mike Evans ($16.5M), Sammy Watkins ($16M), Jarvis Landry ($15.1M), Davante Adams ($14.5M), Allen Robinson ($14M) and Donte Moncrief ($9.6M) are all greater than his this year.
Beckham is second only to Antonio Brown among wide receivers with 38 touchdowns since entering the league, even after missing most of last year. His actions this spring are designed to facilitate the contract that his on-field production suggests.