As evidenced by the contract accepted by safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, we’re firmly into the one-year deal phase of free agency. For one high-profile free agent who actually has been available to any team for more than a year now, the question becomes whether he will eventually accept a one-year deal.
And, if so, what the value of it will be.
Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. has yet to get an offer he can’t or won’t refuse. He suggested on Saturday that he has received one or more offers in the range of $4 million. He made it clear he’s not interested in that.
So what will attract his interest? Will it take $10 million? How about $15 million? Even though OBJ has bristled at the notion he’s looking for $20 million, that’s the number that continues to make the rounds. (Indeed, we’ve heard that he has specifically cited that number when recently speaking to a player who could potentially be his next quarterback.)
Why wouldn’t Beckham want $20 million per year? Why wouldn’t he think he deserves it?
Look at this way. Does OBJ believe he’s a top 15 receiver in the NFL? If he does, then he also presumably wants $20 million per year — since the 15th highest-paid receiver (Brandin Cooks) has a deal with an average payout of $19.882 million.
In a three-way tie at No. 12 are Amari Cooper, Mike Williams, and Chris Godwin, who are getting $20 million each.
At his best, Beckham arguably is as good or better than those players. He simply needs to re-establish himself. He shouldn’t have to, but unfortunately he has to.
After two torn ACLs, the 30-year-old receiver who seemed to be on the brink of winning the Super Bowl LVI MVP award can’t just show up and say, “Pay me for what I’ve done.” Teams pay for what they expect a guy to do. At this point, no one knows what to expect from Beckham.
His best play would be to do a one-year deal that gives him a fair salary plus extra money for playing time and production. While tying too much money to catches could create consternation if the ball isn’t coming his way, he should expect to be paid much more than $4 million if he plays and plays well.
The other alternative would be to sign a one-year deal in multi-year deal clothing. That way, OBJ’s agents can send out the group text to reporters who will race to Twitter to regurgitate the trumped-up numbers without scrutiny, creating the impression that the contract is worth much more than it is.
Regardless, his best play would be to do a one-year deal (actual or de facto) for 2023, and to hope his performance unlocks something more significant for 2024 and beyond.
Timing also becomes critical. He could do something now, or he could wait for teams that don’t address their needs at receiver in the draft. Or maybe he could wait to see if someone gets injured during the offseason program.
At some point, the waiting needs to end. Beckham needs to do a deal, join a team, and re-establish himself. While he may not like the best offer he’ll be getting now, it will never be better later if he doesn’t come back and play now.