Finally, it is the official time for the New York Giants organization to take the narrative that Odell Beckham Jr. is an issue seriously.
As of late, Odell Beckham Jr. has been catching more flack than actual touchdown passes.
The 25-year-old New York Giants receiver is now in his fifth season in the NFL and is still trying to “figure it out.” After missing the remainder of the 2017 season due to an ankle injury, Beckham was determined to come back healthy and prove to people why he is one of the best at his position.
For the right price, of course.
It was evident the star receiver from LSU — drafted in the first round — had outplayed his rookie contract. Beckham and the Giants spent a majority of the offseason trying to come to terms with an agreement that was favorable to both sides. Beckham was very adamant about wanting to be the highest paid receiver in the NFL.
The Giants, however, were hesitant to meet Beckham’s needs due to the drama he inevitably brings. In his defense, Beckham has never been in any trouble off the field, but some of his decision-making certainly makes you question his judgment.
The Giants expressed concerns about Beckham’s maturity which was why they needed reassurance both publicly and privately that he would be committed to the Giants if they restructured his contract.
Beckham eventually got his wish, and the Giants re-signed him to a five-year extension worth $95 million. ($65 million fully guaranteed) The agreement between both sides made him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history.
Money doesn’t change people. In fact, it makes you more of what you already are.
The narrative on Beckham throughout his first four years in the league is that he is a tremendous talent who is selfish, immature and overly emotional at times. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Beckham’s actions lately have been consistent with his brand.
The Giants have gotten off to an abysmal start this year, dropping to 1-5 on the season after losing 34-13 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Just a week prior, they lost a game 33-31 (the Giants hadn’t scored 30 or more points since 2015) to the Carolina Panthers after Panthers kicker Graham Gano ripped their hearts out with a 63-yard field goal at the end of regulation.
But something interesting transpired before those two losses. ESPN’s Josina Anderson conducted a sit-down interview with Beckham (Rapper Lil’ Wayne was present for reasons unbeknownst to me) to talk about his thoughts on the status of the organization.
Beckham appeared to be critical of the play-calling and the erosion of his 37-year-old quarterback, all while questioning the “heart” of his other teammates.
Eli Manning is hindering the Giants from reaching their full potential as long as he is under center. However, he is not the root of the problem in New York.
The Giants have a locker room problem, and it starts and stops with the blonde-haired mohawk wideout. Beckham is by far the most talented player on the Giants, but he lacks the mental makeup and maturity to be the leader this Giants team so desperately needs.
There is no Tom Coughlin, Michael Strahan, or Justin Tuck walking through that locker room — individuals who would be capable of checking Beckham.
Manning has never been the most vocal guy in the locker room, and even if he were, it would be increasingly difficult for him to lead given he can’t consistently perform at a high level on the field. The players have lost faith in Manning’s ability to guide them in the huddle, as expressed by Beckham in the interview.
Pat Shurmur lacks the cachet and the trust of his players, as he is in his first season as head coach of the team and is still trying to prove himself.
So where do the Giants go from here?
They went 3-13 last season and are trending in that direction this year. The second overall pick in the NFL draft, Saquon Barkley, has impressed early. The acquisition of free agent Nate Solder on the offensive line hasn’t panned out. Ereck Flowers moved from left tackle to right guard to help address some of the protection issues upfront; that also didn’t work out, as the Giants recently released Flowers. (The Jacksonville Jaguars have since signed Flowers.)
The two-time Super Bowl MVP, Manning, is still under contract for the remainder of this season and all of next season. The Giants know they need a long-term solution at quarterback which I expect them to address in next year’s draft.
As for Beckham?
If he wants to finish his new contract as a member of the Giants, it will require him to start putting the team first.
Something the rockstar receiver has shown an inability to do early in his career.