If the NFL has taught football fans anything, it’s to never say never.
Where the Minnesota Vikings are concerned, that old adage can perhaps best be applied currently to the circumstances surrounding free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The three-time Pro Bowler is nearly fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered during the Super Bowl in February and is expected to decide where he will play shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Schefter recently listed the contenders for Beckham’s services as the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and New York Giants. Sports Illustrated suggested Monday that the Cowboys and the Giants are the frontrunners for Beckham after NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported he would visit each franchise’s facilities following the holiday. The Cowboys host the Giants during the Thanksgiving Day matinee game.
But despite being lower on the list of expected destinations than some other contenders, Minnesota remains a dark horse candidate to land Beckham and appears still to be on his radar — as they should be for several reasons.
Vikings Clearly Better Option For Beckham Than 2 NFC Rivals
Beckham has been a Pro-Bowl selection and a second-team All Pro honoree multiple times over. Now, he has a Super Bowl ring and has elevated himself to something of an icon in popular culture, recognizable as a celebrity personality well beyond the universe of professional football.
There is no question he wants to play in games that matter, and win those games, but there can be no mistake about it — Beckham’s primary goal is to showcase his talents down the 2022 stretch and through a playoff run to achieve the third, and likely final, big contract of his career.
Doing so requires a contender, which the Vikings and all the other teams mentioned above can claim to be. But another key is being the right fit and being used the right way that is most beneficial to both the organization and the player simultaneously. Minnesota is a better fit for Beckham in this regard than some of the other teams in the hunt.
The Giants have lost two of their last three games, both of which came by double-digit margins. They are also 10-point underdogs on the road in Dallas Thursday, meaning a third loss in less than a month is the oddsmakers’ forecast for New York. Quarterback Daniel Jones has produced the best season of his career in 2022, but whether he can help Beckham maximize and showcase his talent for another trip to free agency in a few months is an entirely legitimate question.
Winners of three in a row, the Niners are trending in the opposite direction. But the cupboard in San Francisco might not be bare enough for Beckham’s purposes with Deebo Samuel, a surging Brandon Aiyuk who scored two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City on Monday, and newly-acquired running back Christian McCaffrey all serving as primary targets of QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Beckham would be certain to find team success there but runs the risk of being noted as an afterthought if the Niners go all the way, or even come close to it, this postseason.
Vikings Offer Beckham Familiarity, Relationships That Cowboys, Bills Can’t Match
There are less compelling cases against Beckham joining the Cowboys or the Bills. Each team is a legitimate contender in their respective conferences and each has a top-level quarterback in Dak Prescott and Josh Allen. Beckham would have a clear opportunity to earn his way into the No. 2 receiver role on either roster behind solid No. 1 targets in CeeDee Lamb and Stefon Diggs. The biggest difference between those situations and the one Beckham can join in Minnesota boils down to familiarity and relationships.
Justin Jefferson is probably the most talented of any of the wide receivers mentioned thus far and has referred to Beckham as his “big brother,” the two having formed a bond as personal friends and former LSU alumni. Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell is also patrolling the Vikings’ sideline just one year after serving as Beckham’s offensive coordinator with the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Beckham thrived in O’Connell’s system in L.A., much of which the coach brought with him to Minnesota.
Former NFL general manager and Heavy’s pro football insider Randy Mueller explained why the Vikings make perhaps the most sense as a destination for Beckham.
“I actually think Minnesota would be a great spot for OBJ. He’s coming into a team that should make the playoffs with a system in place that he can only make them better in,” Mueller said. “He’s not going to see double teams because of Jefferson, and I think he could be very productive with other parts on offense.”
The Vikings are 8-2 but after being routed by the Cowboys just days ago, they no longer have the same mystique of NFL eliteness as Dallas or Buffalo or Kansas City. However, that should be a plus for Beckham, not a negative.
Minnesota is going to win the NFC North Division and host at least one home playoff game, most likely as the NFC’s No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Showing out on the way to helping the Vikings accomplish that would buy Beckham a lot of credit around the league. Helping Minnesota win multiple playoff games, or make and/or win a Super Bowl, would elevate him back to truly elite status among wide receivers due to the perception around the Vikings now as a second-tier team.
It would be a mistake for Beckham to choose any franchise other than Minnesota in 2022, as the Vikings offer him the perfect balance of opportunity, familiarity and need at the position, and will allow him the best chance to make noise in the playoffs before getting paid in the offseason.