Less than two months after signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a record five-year, $90 million extension, the New York Giants find themselves mired in the same miserable drama that has defined his otherwise brilliant career in Jersey.
OBJ’s decision to call out his team prior to last week’s outing against the Philadelphia Eagles is the latest example of a major disconnect between the obstreperous wide receiver and his organization.
It didn’t fit with the dynamic that new head coach Pat Shurmur has attempted to bring to the Giants’ organization. A change of culture from the not-so-distant past when then-head coach Ben McAdoo led an group of men that were seen as more self-centered than team-first.
The Giants knew what they were getting when they signed OBJ to that massive extension back in August. It was no secret. Time after time, the self-involved receiver had embarrassed the franchise with his on-field antics and firebrand mentality. Despite this, they gave him $65 million in total guarantees.
That’s what makes owner John Mara’s comments on Tuesday so darn confounding.
“I wish he would create the headlines by his play on the field as opposed to what he says and what he does off the field,” Mara said in a shockingly open Q&A with reporters. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”
Did the Giants somehow think that a new contract would change OBJ’s ways? Give him some money and shut him up?
That’s not how it works. That’s never how it’s worked. You don’t turn off that switch by simply backing up the Brinks truck for a player. At this point, Beckham Jr. is who he is. Expecting anything different simply because he was handed a huge contract is quite frankly insensible.
Now, at 1-5 on the season, these Giants find themselves in a major predicament. Shurmur is doing everything possible to change a disoriented culture under Ben McAdoo before the Giants tar-and-feathered him out of town.
Can Shurmur even start to re-brand this team under the dark cloud of Beckham’s existence? That seems highly unlikely, especially now that there’s a rift growing between struggling future Hall of Fame quarterback Eli Manning and his teammates.
While it won’t happen this season due to how NFL contracts are structured, the Giants must consider trading Beckham when the offseason comes calling.
Despite his diva-like mentality and outlandish character, OBJ would draw interest on the trade block. It might not be fair-market value for a receiver that was breaking records prior to his injury-plagued 2017 season. But ridding themselves of this malignancy would serve in the best interest of the franchise moving forward.
This isn’t to solely blame Beckham for what has happened. That would be a surface-based narrative akin to calling him the root cause rather than a manifestation of larger-scale issues in New Jersey.
The Giants knew what OBJ was when they drafted him. They understood full well what he brought to the table from a drama standpoint prior to extending him. In no way is Beckham to blame for New York’s massive miscalculation.
Even then, the idea of moving on from Beckham as the face of the franchise and replacing him with rookie running back Saquon Barkley has to be attractive to GM Dave Gettleman and Co. Remember, Gettleman did the exact same thing with an equally high-and-mighty Josh Norman during his Carolina Panthers days.
The idea would be to make a star player in Barkley, who has dominated in his first six NFL games, the new face of the franchise. The culture would change. The star player wouldn’t be as boisterous. And in reality, Barkley’s presence in that role would enable this organization to move forward unfettered.
That’s simply not going to happen with Beckham Jr. in the mix. To believe otherwise is pure comedy.