If you were running the New York Giants, would you consider a reunion with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.?
Beckham became a free agent last month and still has not signed a new contract. He is currently rehabilitating a torn ACL suffered with the Los Angeles Rams during their win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.
Three years ago, the Giants pulled a blockbuster trade that sent Beckham to the Cleveland Browns, and quite a bit has changed since then. Dave Gettleman was the Giants general manager when the deal was orchestrated, and Pat Shurmur was still the head coach.
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Now that the Giants are entering a new era under general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, some fans would like to see Beckham get a shot to finish what he started in New York. That is evidenced by an old tweet posted by Beckham in 2019, which recently resurfaced and is going viral all over again three years later.
Beckham wrote nothing in the tweet copy. The accompanying video is just 60 seconds of his highlights with the Giants, but it speaks volumes. It’s a stark reminder of the unique athleticism, passion and swagger that he brought to the team from 2014-2018. Since Beckham’s departure, no Giants receiver has eclipsed 800 yards in a single season and the team has not eclipsed six wins.
If you click on that old tweet and check out the quote tweets, you’ll see hundreds of recent posts from Giants fans telling Beckham to “come home” and imploring the team to make a reunion happen. Not every fan feels this way, but enough do to give this old tweet new life.
Beckham, whose most productive NFL seasons came with Eli Manning throwing him the ball, eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in four out of five seasons with the Giants. The only time he fell short of that total was in 2017, when he missed most of the season due to an ankle injury. Overall, 44 of Beckham’s 56 career receiving touchdowns came with the Giants.
Daniel Jones Needs a WR1 Like Beckham
The Giants traded Beckham a couple months before selecting quarterback Daniel Jones in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Since then, Jones has struggled to solidify himself as the team’s franchise quarterback. It doesn’t help that he’s already onto his third coaching staff in his young career, but he also hasn’t had the luxury of a true No. 1 wide receiver.
In Jones’ first two seasons with the Giants, Darius Slayton was the team’s leading receiver. Slayton had 740 receiving yards in 2019, then put up 751 yards in 2020. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they’re better than what we witnessed in 2021.
Last season, Slayton took a back seat to Kenny Golladay, who signed with the Giants on a four-year, $72 million contract in free agency. New York also spent a first-round draft pick that offseason on speedy wide receiver Kadarius Toney. While the infusion of athleticism at the position was promising, Golladay and Toney had less than 1,000 receiving yards combined and neither one scored a single touchdown.
Jones missed a significant chunk of the season with a neck injury, but those pass-catchers weren’t producing even when New York’s starting signal caller was healthy. Now entering a make-or-break season, Jones needs a reliable receiver more than ever.
Maybe the connection with Golladay finally flourishes in 2022 or Toney takes a massive leap in Year 2, but Jones could use all the help he can get. Adding a free-agent receiver of Beckham’s caliber to the mix would give Jones another valuable weapon and could increase his chances of sticking around beyond this season.
Why Beckham Still Hasn’t Been Signed
Even if the Giants decide to pursue a reunion with Beckham, the impact would not be felt immediately. Since he tore his ACL in February, it’s likely he would miss all of training camp and probably the start of the season. He’d have to develop a chemistry with Jones on the fly, and the results may not come quick.
This also isn’t Beckham’s first major knee injury. He tore his ACL in 2020, as well. And when you factor in smaller injuries, you’ll realize Beckham has only played a full season twice in his entire NFL career (2016, 2019).
Beckham’s current rehabilitation is probably a major reason why he’s still a free agent, but there’s also the “Baker Mayfield” factor to consider. His success in half a season with the Rams came only after he forced his way out of Cleveland, which severely damaged Mayfield’s reputation. At this time last year, the Browns thought they finally had their franchise quarterback in Mayfield. A year later, they swung a trade for Deshaun Watson and no one knows for sure where or when Mayfield will take his next NFL snap.
Mayfield’s fall from grace may have been inevitable, but the Beckham situation certainly expedited it. Any team that pursues OBJ in free agency must also consider the potential ripple effect if things don’t go well right away.
Schoen and Daboll should be familiar with this situation. In 2020, when they were still with the Buffalo Bills, their organization traded for a similar wide receiver in Stefon Diggs. Although Diggs was often disgruntled with the Minnesota Vikings, they knew what he could do for quarterback Josh Allen on the field. Two years later, it’s hard to argue against the gamble the Bills made that offseason.
Now trying to save the career of another young quarterback in Jones, Schoen and Daboll have to decide whether a reunion with Beckham would unlock the same potential with the Giants.