With Sterling Shepard set to return against the Rams after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, the New York Giants will finally have two formidable receiving options with him and Evan Engram.
Having another reliable receiver to throw to is what Eli Manning desperately needed, as he’s only averaging 131 yards in the Giants’ past two games. As a result, the Giants offense has only scored a combined 20 points over the last two games.
With Shepard back on the field, the Giants’ passing attack should be able to make plays down the field for the first time since Week 5 when Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall were lost for the season with devastating ankle injuries.
You have to wonder though… if the Giants offense comes to life and they start winning games over the final nine games of the season, will it change their tone about offering Beckham a huge contract this offseason?
Without question in his four years in the league, OBJ has proven that he is one of the best players we’ve ever seen. He was the rookie of the year in 2014, has made the Pro Bowl every year, has double-digit touchdowns every year and was the fastest receiver to reach 300 career receptions and 3,000 receiving yards.
Based on a pure talent standpoint, he’s probably the second greatest Giant of all-time next to Lawrence Taylor.
However in spite of his talent and achievements, the one statistical category that does not look good are the Giants wins and losses with Beckham.
Including last season’s Wild Card loss to the Packers, the Giants are 21-28 in games that Beckham’s played in. In the playoff loss, he had several costly drops that quickly changed the momentum of the game.
Now Beckham is not the reason the Giants are 21-28 in the 49 games he’s appeared in. In fact, he’s almost single-handedly won some games for them in the final moments, like last season against the Ravens when he took a short slant pass 66 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just 1:24 remaining in the game.
The main reason the Giants have struggled winning games during his tenure is because the offensive line has been shaky and, with the exception of 2016, the defense has been below average.
Earlier this year, Beckham said he wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. Obviously that will never happen, mainly because quarterbacks get paid the most.
But let’s say he wants to be the highest-paid receiver in the league. That would put his annual contract around 20 million dollars.
Paying a receiver that amount of money cripples a team’s salary cap and makes it difficult to form a solid team all-around. So if the Giants were to give OBJ this huge contract, there stands a good possibility that the offensive line will still struggle and the Giants won’t have the cap space to field certain needs on the defense, such as the linebacker position.
So if the Giants pay Beckham this amount of money, they’ll have almost the same type of supporting cast around him that has resulted in a 21-28 record.
As great as Beckham has been, a case could be made that they would have been better off drafting Zack Martin in the 2014 NFL Draft instead. With Martin, the Dallas Cowboys have won two division titles and have a 1-2 playoff record. In that same time, the Giants have no division titles and are 0-1 in the playoffs.
This is further proof that it’s better to build a team inside-out, rather than building a team on the outside.
Shortly, there will be more of an emphasis for the Giants to build a more complete team, as Eli Manning’s days as a Giant are nearing an end. The 36-year-old quarterback said he would like to play three or four more years. But with his play slowly declining and the Giants in rebuilding mode, it’s hard to see him being the Giants quarterback beyond the 2018 season.
Considering Manning is the greatest quarterback in Giants’ history, it’s safe to assume there will be decline at quarterback play. So it will be imperative for the Giants to have cap space to build a solid offensive line for whoever is Manning’s successor at quarterback.
The Giants spent a first-round pick on Evan Engram and a second-round pick on Sterling Shepard, and if these two shine over the final nine games of the season, the Giants may feel comfortable having them as their first and second receiving options and use the money they would have used to pay OBJ to build a solid team around them.
If the offense continues to struggle over the last nine games, then the Giants will have no choice but to make OBJ the highest-paid receiver in the league, no matter how poor their record is during this time.