Most veteran NFL free agents must resort to practice-squad jobs to stay in the league.
And then there's wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose high-wattage star outshines street free-agent applications. Beckham, who tore his left ACL playing for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI in February and didn't sign with a team in the offseason, apparently can visit a team without his name appearing on the league's transaction report. He can saunter the sidelines of SoFi Stadium and the Superdome to glad-hand other star players.
And when he suits up, he can be the best player on the field. Just watch back the tape of his touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in his last game.
Only 29 years old, Beckham's career has had it all -- a historic first three years of production with the New York Giants, followed by major endorsements and jersey sales; multiple injuries hampering his production; a curious trade to the Cleveland Browns, where a lack of cohesion with quarterback Baker Mayfield prompted Beckham's forced release last November; and a landing spot in Los Angeles, where he served as a catalyst to a title-winning team. As he recovers from his second ACL injury -- the first happened in October 2020 -- teams are curious about where he ends up.
Beckham showed his potential in 12 games with the Rams but hasn't produced a 1,100-yard or 80-catch season since 2016. It's unclear when he'll be fully healthy. Some of the team execs and coaches we've talked to believe he'll be ready to sign sometime in mid-November. They also wonder whether that timeline is close enough to the end of the regular season that he might sit out the year to ensure complete health in 2023.
"Wherever he goes will most likely be with a top quarterback," an AFC executive said. "He has that luxury, and why waste time with anything else?"
Most teams with great passers have a few million dollars to spare, or at least can create cap space this year. That begs the question, though: What type of contract will Beckham seek? He could do a one-year deal with high incentives to set the stage for free agency re-up next March, or he could sign a two-year deal with high earning power in 2023, plus a decent signing bonus. Teams most likely want to see him prove he's back before committing, however.
To gauge Beckham's market in full scope, we ranked the top fits for his services, adding context on how likely each team is to add him and how he'd mesh in the offense: