This day was a long time coming, with many bumps along the way. But finally, the Odell Beckham Jr. contract saga has come to an end.
The Giants signed their enigmatic wide receiver to a five-year contract extension on Monday worth $95 million, with $65 million guaranteed. The deal for the 25-year-old is the richest for a receiver in NFL history, with an annual price tag of $19 million topping the Steelers’ four-year deal with Antonio Brown at $17 million per, and surpasses the $55 million guaranteed given to the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans.
It ignited a dance party inside the Giants locker room that was shared on social media after a long and muggy day at training camp, and it continued as Beckham ripped out of the parking lot of the East Rutherford training center in his car with a grin that threatened to rip his face in two.
“Honestly, I don’t even know how to explain it,” Beckham said in a story released by the team, with him set to address the media in person on Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s a relief, I don’t know — it’s a combination of everything. You’ve worked all your life to get to this point and it’s finally here.”
It turned out that Beckham played his hand perfectly, showing up to training camp under first-year head coach Pat Shurmur and putting all the regular work in — despite not playing in any of the first three preseason games. Having one more year left on his current deal, there was a threat that Beckham might hold out if he didn’t receive an extension.
He also said this offseason that he thought he deserved to be the highest-paid receiver in the league, but was more measured when he showed up to camp, reiterating the fact that he was confident the deal was going to get done in due time. Turns out that first-year general manager Dave Gettleman saw that and was rather impressed.
“It was not a distraction because of the way we handled it,” Gettleman said in the same team-released story. “I was thrilled when he spoke to the media at training camp. I was thrilled he said it’ll get done when it gets done, because that’s what it is. You can’t force things, it’s a negotiation. It’s a back and forth, both sides have to be intentional and thoughtful, which we were. It was great negotiating.”
The biggest questions surrounding Beckham had little to do with his talent and more to do with his occasionally volatile personality. On the field, he did things like the famous blowup with then-Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, the sideline altercation with a kicking net, and the simulated dog-peeing touchdown celebration. Off the field, he punched a wall after a loss in the playoffs — a game in which he dropped crucial passes and was preceded by a now-infamous boat trip in Florida — along with the seven-second video of him in a Paris hotel room with a model and suspicious substances laying around.
With his money on the line this summer, he seems to have calmed down a little bit and Giants ownership has taken notice.
“As I have said, I think Odell personally is moving in the right direction,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and CEO. “He came to camp with a tremendous attitude, with a smile on his face and worked hard and reminded us of his unique abilities. He’s ready to have a great season and we’re ready for him to have a great season.”
In his four years in the league, Beckham has 313 catches for 4,424 yards and 38 touchdowns. According to ESPN, his career average of 94.1 receiving yards per game is the second-most in NFL history among players with at least 40 games played, behind only Julio Jones’ 95.3.
Yet he played only four games last season and needed season-ending surgery on his fractured left ankle. Thus far in training camp, his teammates have been impressed with his readiness.
“Oh yeah, he ready,” said cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who lines up against Beckham constantly in practice. “All I know is that once Odell hits the field, he’s going to be Odell Beckham Jr.” There was a question whether that was going to happen at all this season, but now Beckham and his contract drama is finally a thing of the past.
“I never worried whether or not we would get it done,” Gettleman said. “I’m pleased, because the litmus test for a contract is that neither side is ticked off before the ink can dry, and neither side should be ticked off. It’s a very fair deal.”