Odell Beckham Jr. is now officially a member of the Los Angeles Rams, but it sounds like he could have just as easily joined the Green Bay Packers … if only their front office hadn’t left him feeling so “disrespected.”
Beckham’s three-day stint as an unrestricted free agent came to an eventful close on Thursday, November 11, when the former Cleveland Browns wide receiver chose L.A. over Green Bay with contract offers on the table from both teams. NFL’s Network’s Ian Rapoport has since revealed Beckham signed a one-year deal that will pay him $1.25 million for the rest of the season and allows him to earn up to $3 million more in incentives depending on how the team finishes in the postseason.
According to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, though, the Packers were still Beckham’s preferred destination at decision time and would have likely been able to add him to their roster if the front office had “changed their stance or come up even a little bit” from the veteran-minimum contract offer they had made him.
“#Packers front office is the main reason why they failed to land Odell Beckham Jr., per sources,” Schultz tweeted on November 12. “I’m told (head coach) Matt LaFleur wanted OBJ, believing his acquisition would be both seamless/positive for (Green Bay’s) offense. (Front office) lowballed Beckham, while the #Rams believed in him.”
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Beckham Could Have Upgraded Packers Offense
Now, to be completely transparent, Schultz’s original tweet had read “Mark Murphy is the main reason why” instead of the “Packers front office,” which caused some people to immediately dismiss his report given the background knowledge on how the Packers handle contracts. Brian Gutekunst is Green Bay’s general manager and executive vice president Russ Ball manages the team’s salary-cap situation, making Murphy’s involvement in the process ultimately minute.
In fairness to Schultz, though, the rest of the report could still hold water even though he mistakenly attributed the responsibility to Murphy instead of the contract decision-makers in the front office, and that might be disappointing to the Packers fans who believed Beckham would have been a dynamic addition to their offense.
While the Packers have a variety of receiving weapons, Davante Adams is the only one among them who has been a reliable producer for their offense. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard have both been good, even great, at moments in their careers, but neither has been consistent enough to become a true No. 2 threat opposite Adams. Meanwhile, veteran Randall Cobb is past the point of being able to truly embrace that role despite having clear value as a clutch option on late downs.
But with Beckham, the Packers could have acquired another weapon who has proven capable of being a high-volume producer. Beckham has exceeded 1,000 receiving yards in five of his first eight seasons in the league, and he did so with lesser quarterbacks — late-career Eli Manning and Baker Mayfield — than Aaron Rodgers.
Packers Had Little Means to Offer Much More
The Packers might have missed out on Beckham, but it is not like there is much more the front office could have done to win him over. The team is stuck at about $4.6 million in cap space for the rest of the sign and has already restructured just about every veteran deal they possibly could have. The only realistic option for them to create more space would have been extending Adams to reduce his current cap number, and that would be difficult to accomplish given Adams’ representatives broke off contract talks in July and were not expected to resume until after the season was over.
According to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, the Rams also managed to stack incentives as a “pseudo poison pill” for their competition in Green Bay. Since the Packers reached the NFC Championship Game in 2020, any postseason-related incentives for Beckham would have been considered “likely to be earned” and would have counted against the team’s 2021 cap. That is simply something they could not have afforded to do on their current budget.
If Schultz’s report is accurate, there might have been some wiggle room if the Packers had shown more interest in OBJ than a veteran-minimum offer, but the front office is juggling other needs — and potential needs — all at the same time. And as explosive as Beckham could have been, at the end of the day, another receiver does not seem to be something desperately missing from the equation.