New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. kept his word and reported to training camp on time and without much fanfare. On Thursday, co-owner John Mara said the time is coming for the team to address his contract situation.
“I anticipate that we’ll be speaking with his agents sooner rather than later,” Mara said. “I’m not going to give you an exact timetable on that or give daily or weekly updates on that. But I think those will start pretty soon, and hopefully we will come to an agreement.”
It’s no secret Beckham wants a new deal. He will play 2018 under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, making $8.5 million. Beckham is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the NFL’s most electrifying playmakers. The Giants went an NFC-worst 3-13 last season after he missed the final 12 regular season games with a broken ankle.
Beckham was present for the Giants’ organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp, despite trade rumors leading up to April’s NFL Draft. Two of his fellow 2014 draft classmates (the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack) have elected not to report to training camp because of their desire for new contracts.
Beckham’s path of least resistance is probably the reason why the Giants want to get the deal done now.
“It certainly had an effect on our desire to start negotiating,” Mara said. “(Beckham’s) had the right attitude all along and we expect him to have a great season.”
Naturally, Beckham’s behavior has been a factor in beginning contract talks. The Giants also want to see how he is physically before making a long-term commitment. He didn’t participate in any live drills this spring despite being medically cleared for minicamp.
“We certainly wanted to see what he could do on the field, wanted him to pass his physical,” Mara said. “He obviously was here a little bit during the spring and we felt pretty good about where he is. We feel very good about where he is physically right now.”
Mara didn’t comment about whether Beckham is ready to participate in full-contact drills or will play in the preseason. Instead, he deferred to Beckham and head coach Pat Shurmur.
Shurmur said he is “ready to go” but cautioned that the Giants would be smart with him after the injury. Beckham initially injured his ankle in the second preseason game. He missed the final two preseason games and regular season opener.
The Giants historically have gotten long-term extensions done before the first regular season game. They open the season at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 9, more than a month away.
Beckham initially expressed a desire to be the NFL’s highest paid player. He later issued a retraction, saying he wants to be the NFL’s highest paid wide receiver. Currently, that distinction belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown. Brown will make $18 million in 2018.
“We think we know what it is going to take to re-sign him,” Mara said. “We’ll see.”
The Giants have long expressed a desire that Beckham remain with the team for the duration of his NFL career. At the same time, they have been reticent because of some of his baggage.
“We obviously want him to be a Giant for a long time,” Mara said. “And we hope to be able to come to some kind of agreement.”
Although negotiations are beginning relatively late with training camp already underway, at least the process has started.
“I think this was the timing we always had in mind,” Mara said. “I think Odell personally is moving in the right decision. I think he’s come in here with the right attitude. Showed up (for the start of training camp) with a smile on his face and worked hard. I think he’s ready to go. I think he’s ready to have a great season. We’re ready for him to have a great season.”
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.