Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the NFL's most exciting players, a legitimate game-changer who forces opponents to find creative (and often futile) ways to slow him down. Which is to say: It's hard to envision a situation where the Giants -- who went 3-13 with Beckham injured for much of last season -- would consider trading their 25-year-old wide receiver who has yet to scratch the surface on his otherworldly talents.
And yet here we are. At issue, as always, is money. Beckham reportedly won't step on the field without a new contract. He's set to make $8.5 million on his fifth-year option, which sounds like a lot until you realize that ranks 22nd among all NFL wideouts in terms of salary-cap hits and is precisely half of what the league's highest-paid receiver, Antonio Brown, pulls down, on average.
Fueling speculation: Giants owner John Mara not committing to Beckham beyond 2018.
"I can't answer that one way or the other," he said Sunday. "I mean we're certainly not shopping him, if that's what you're asking. But when you're coming off a season where you're 3-13 and played as poorly as we played, I wouldn't say anyone's untouchable."
- Point A: Mara plainly states, "We're certainly not shopping [Beckham]."
- Point B: Mara also plainly states, "I wouldn't say anyone's untouchable."
So as long as we're having this discussion, let's have it. Even if the Giants reportedly want to sign Beckham to a contract extension, until they do this will remain a looming storyline. And in the interim, expect to read about all the teams that have interest in the young wideout, for both the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.
With that in mind, here's our list of the top 10 landing spots for Beckham.
10. Dallas Cowboys
There's no way the Giants would trade Beckham to the Cowboys (would they?), but with all the talk about Dez Bryant's tenuous future in Dallas, not to mention the recent news that Terrance Williams could miss the entire offseason with an injury, there is certainly a need at the position. The Cowboys only have $3.1 million in cap space so it's the longest of long shots. That said, imagine an offense featuring that offensive line, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Beckham -- all 25 or under.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
There's no way this happens but Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio floated a possible trade scenario that, if nothing else, was interesting to think about: Trade Beckham to Pittsburgh for Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant. Bell wants to be paid more than the Steelers may feel he's worth and Bryant spent the early part of last season asking to be traded out of town. Beckham would join Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh (the Steelers were reportedly going to draft Beckham in 2014 if he was till on the board at No. 15 -- the Giants took him 12th) and the team could find a running back in the draft (perhaps Derrius Guice).
8. Green Bay Packers
The Packers cut ties with Jordy Nelson, leaving them a receiver depth chart topped by Davante Adams, with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison next in line. Imagine giving Aaron Rodgers, one of the league's best quarterbacks, one of the game's best receivers to go with the Jimmy Graham addition in a single offseason. Including Randall Cobb in the trade or cutting him would save $9.5 million this year, and he's a free agent next offseason. Clay Matthews's $11.3 million salary can be cleared off the books at anytime. Even considering Rodgers is due his own contract extension, there's room to fit an Odell Beckham deal on the Packers' books.
7. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals' biggest offseason need was finding a quarterback, and they addressed that when they signed Sam Bradford. The biggest issue is keeping him healthy but if that happens (he's played at least 14 games in a season four times in eight years) you can make a reasonable argument that not only is Arizona in the running for a division title but that Seattle might be the worst team in the NFC West. Beckham, who'd line up alongside Larry Fitzgerald and a healthy David Johnson, would only enhances the Cards' chances. With Arizona's former defensive coordinator in New York, would both sides entertain a trade centered around Beckham and Patrick Peterson? That's hard to see happening, but never say never.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
It's easy to overlook the Chargers because they were newly relocated, played in a soccer stadium and shared Los Angeles with the 11-win Rams. But they also won six of their final seven games to finish 9-7, have one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in Philip Rivers, and best young pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. There's also veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen, widely considered one of the league's top route runners, and 2017 first-round pick Mike Williams, who was limited to 10 games as a rookie due to injury. Adding Beckham to this offense -- one that includes running back Melvin Gordon and his 1,105 rushing yards in 2017 -- would, for many people (us included) make the Chargers the favorites to win the AFC West and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
5. Buffalo Bills
The Bills dumped Tyrod Taylor, signed AJ McCarron, and will almost certainly try to draft a quarterback in the early rounds next month. Whomever ends up under center will need someone to throw to. The passing game ranked 28th last season. Kelvin Benjamin was a non-factor in six games (16 catches, 217 yards, one TD) and perhaps he would be part of any deal that would bring Beckham to Buffalo; new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman drafted Benjamin in the first round in 2014, which was also his best season (73 catches, 1,008 yards, nine TDs). The Bills rank 17th in available cap space with $7.8 million.
4. San Francisco 49ers
Initially, no one knew what to make of the 49ers trading for Jimmy Garoppolo because he spent the first month on the bench. But everything changed in Week 13, when he made his first start for a team that was 1-10 -- and he promptly won five straight. San Francisco went from laughing stock to dark-horse playoff candidate in 2018. Marquise Goodwin averaged 17.2 yards per catch and led the team with 962 receiving yards but after that the falloff was precipitous. Tight end George Kittle was next with 500 receiving yards, followed by veteran wideout Pierre Garcon (500 yards). Despite the dearth of playmakers, Garoppolo was the NFL's most efficient passer among quarterbacks attempting fewer than 200 passes, so imagine what he'd be able to do with Beckham lining up with Goodwin and newly-acquired Jerick McKinnon in the backfield.
The 49ers have $36.5 million in cap space, behind only the Browns and Colts.
3. New York Jets
The Jets have gobs of cap space ($31.3 million), would love to land the New York's "other" team's best player, and most importantly, have a glaring need for Beckham's talents. The Jets are coming off a five-win season in which their best receiver, Quincy Enunwa, was hurt, but Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse had solid campaigns. The former led the team with 941 receiving yards (65 catches, seven TDs) and the latter was second with 810 receiving yards (65 catches, five TDs). The Jets signed Terrelle Pryor in free agency but he's coming off a disappointing year in Washington. Beckham would not only make life immeasurably easier for whomever wins the Jets' quarterback job -- right now it's between 38-year-old Josh McCown and former Vikings first-rounder Teddy Bridgewater -- but should the team draft a quarterback with the No. 6 pick, he would be another beneficiary.
2. Cleveland Browns
The Browns don't have their proven young quarterback yet, but that will change in five weeks, when they will almost certainly draft one with the first-overall pick. In the meantime, new general manager John Dorsey has been busy assembling a team that will hopefully make fans forget that Cleveland has exactly one win in its last 32 games. New additions include Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, Drew Stanton, Carlos Hyde, Chris Hubbard, Damarious Randall and E.J. Gaines.
The sense is that Dorsey is just getting started. So it stands to reason that Beckham would find way onto this list because:
- The Browns have more cap space ($57.9 million) than anybody;
- Their offense -- and specifically, their passing game -- ranked dead last last season;
- 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman has been a huge disappointment;
- As Dorsey pointed out recently, Beckham played at LSU with Landry (who is best suited as a No. 3 receiver -- a role he would thrive in with Josh Gordon and Beckham garnering much of a defense's attention). And Beckham was coached by Adam Henry, the Browns' new receivers coach, at LSU.
“WE WANT BECKHAM”— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) March 26, 2018
1. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have been busy this offseason, and they may not be done, even after has already talked to the Giants about trading Beckham. The asking price: A first-round pick plus other compensation, though Leonard writes that any trade "likely won't require two first-round picks to get it done."Monday. The New York Daily News's Pat Leonard reported Monday that the team
Meanwhile, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano described trade talks between the Giants and other teams thusly: "zero, nada, zilch."
The Rams, which traded for shutdown cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, do have a need for a playmaking pass catcher, a role Sammy Watkins never grew into last season. Watkins signed with the Chiefs earlier this month, leaving a wide-receiver corps that includes Cooper Kupp (62 catches, 869 yards, five TDs), Robert Woods (56 catches, 781 yards, five TDs) and running back Todd Gurley (64 catches, 788 yards, six TDs).
The addition of Beckham would make the Rams' offense, which ranked sixth in the league in 2017, even more dangerous.
Added bonus: Los Angeles has $31.3 million in salary-cap space, according to Spotrac.com, which is the sixth-most in the NFL.
Part of the reason the Rams have so much cap space: Jared Goff is midway through his rookie deal. This also explains why the team is stacking its roster -- after going 11-5 in coach Sean McVay's first season, they're ready for a Super Bowl run now; there is no waiting for Goff to grow into his role because he proved last season that he's a capable quarterback. And before the Rams have to sign him to an extension that will almost certainly cost $30 million a year, they're replicating what the Seahawks did early in Russell Wilson's tenure and what the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles are doing now.
It's a sound strategy if you have a proven young quarterback, and even sounder if you can find a way to pair him with a player like Beckham.