The Giants can talk to Odell Beckham Jr. all they want. There is nothing wrong with that. And they probably do not have much choice. They have prominent members of their locker room all but begging for it, not to mention a sizable swath of the fanbase and local media that has become swept away in the excitement of meaningful football after mid-October.
But unless Beckham wants to come back here on a short-term, low-cost deal that does not run beyond this season, general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll should do nothing more than grant the post-Thanksgiving courtesy meeting. And even if Beckham is on board with that, they should think long and hard about whether they want to make this leap. Because a Beckham return here remains the last thing these surprising Giants need.
Put aside all the extracurricular issues — we will get to those in a moment. Focus on the football issues. Yes, Beckham has been a dynamic, game-changing player at his best. He’s also a 30-year-old wide receiver who has suffered three serious lower body injuries — two torn ACLs and a broken ankle — and has also battled hamstring issues. If you assume he would have re-signed with the Rams last offseason if not for his Super Bowl injury, he has missed 30% of his team’s regular season games in his career.
That is a staggering amount. And sure, his camp can spin all they want about how he is ready to go. But no one really knows. And Beckham plays a position where guys can lose it overnight. So if he is truly looking for a multi-year, big-money deal, it should be a hard pass. You know what happens when you roll the dice on rewarding injury-prone players for past production? You end up with Kenny Golladay glued to your bench.
Now, the other stuff. Beckham was always popular with his teammates. The recent campaigning Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard have done for him makes that clear. And he has never found himself in significant off-field trouble. But there has been a tremendous amount of revisionist history around town when it comes to the Beckham years. The Giants spent their time bouncing from one headache to the next with Beckham and got little to nothing out of it.
The brawl with Josh Norman, the kicking net, the boat trip, the annual OTA hand-wringing, the fire hydrant incident, the Lil’ Wayne interview … it was never going to be sustainable. Former general manager Dave Gettleman’s decision to cut bait has proven a neutral decision for the team at worst. And anyone who tries to sell you the Beckham maturity spiel should not be taken seriously. This is a guy who shot his way out of Cleveland only a year ago and burned every bridge with Baker Mayfield.
The Giants finally have Daniel Jones thriving. So bring in Beckham to blow up on him after he does not get the ball when he wants it? Why throw a wild card into what has been a rock-solid culture and innocent climb out of irrelevancy?
It still seems unlikely the Giants will sign Beckham. The Cowboys seem far more interested, for one, and will have more money to offer him. A big splash for Beckham would also be very off-brand for Daboll and Schoen so far.
The Giants have known their receivers were underwhelming since the spring. They made no effort to improve the unit during the offseason, the preseason or at the trade deadline. They clearly do not feel they need to give Jones more weapons to evaluate him. Or that they are a player away from being a serious contender in the NFC. The Giants could have had Brandin Cooks from the Texans a few weeks ago. He is a year younger and has been far more durable than Beckham. That his future salary cap hits was a non-starter suggests Daboll and Schoen are sticking to their long-term plan. As they should.
Beckham was treated like Lawrence Taylor when he was here. But he was not even Matt Harvey in the end. At least the Dark Knight got to a World Series. Beckham won nothing here, he choked in the one playoff game he played here and he left town as nothing more than a footnote in New York sports history with one incredible catch to his name. No rings, no Ring of Honor. And, if the Giants are smart, no triumphant return.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]