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D.A.: Giants Had No Choice But To Give Beckham His Money

November 01, 2018 - 5:45 pm

The numbers are huge. Odell Beckham will earn another $95M from the Giants, making him the highest paid wide receiver ever. He'll get $65M of that guaranteed. He will make $20M per year over the first three years. He's paid more than Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and Mike Evans.

Beckham will make as much in one season as it took Jerry Rice to earn over five. But this is not about whether Odell is better than the GOAT, will make it to Canton, or even if he's superior to his current peers. This is a story about his value to his organization, and specifically his GM. 

Critics have howled at the dollars the Giants hurled at their wide out. "What about paying for a decent offensive line? Where's the money to help out the defense? Is Odell going to play quarterback when Eli retires?" These are fair critiques. Beckham can't get into the end zone if his quarterback is flat on the turf. He can't stop his DB's from getting burned for 4th quarter touchdowns. He has no control over whether his inexperienced head coach botches late-game time management. 

He does however, give Dave Gettleman the ultimate security blanket. The GM has only been on the job a few months, but he's already made a pair of gutsy (read: potentially cataclysmic) decisions. If those break his way, he's a genius. If they don't, he may have set the franchise back a decade, fumbling away a chance to smoothly reset the team's course of history.  

Gettleman owned the second pick of the draft in a year where five quarterbacks were taken in the first round. After Baker Mayfield was selected by the Browns, the Giants passed on every other signal-caller in the draft to bank on their 37-year-old. New York did take Kyle Lauletta from Richmond in the fourth, but if Gettleman felt he needed to move on from Eli Manning soon he would've taken a QB earlier. 

The Giants GM likes to boast, swagger, and quip. He is confident, defiant, and combative. He believes Eli still had plenty of life in his arm, and thus passed on Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson. Instead, he took a running back. While Saquon Barkley may be a star, the GM still had made a dramatic franchise-altering decision. If Eli shrivels up this year, the Giants may never get another shot like this year to fix the position. They haven't picked this high in 35 years. Next year's draft looks to be extremely shallow on signal-callers. 

This brings us back to Odell. If Gettleman is right, Eli will have a few more productive years, and Barkley will quickly grow into one of the best running backs in the game. If he's wrong on either the choice to take a runner that high will look beyond foolish. Which is why he needed to toss stacks of money at Beckham. The sticky-fingered one makes Manning look better on every play. He takes mundane 12-yard slants and turns them into 65-yard electrifying touchdowns. He converts overthrows into spectacular one-handed grabs. He draws two defenders, and pulls coverage away from other targets making Eli's life a whole lot easier. 

Odell covers up the mistakes of others when he's breaking open games. The Giants blockers have been one of the worst groups in the league, but weak offensive lines can get by holding their blocks a half-second less when Odell is turning water to wine. Defenses also can't stack the box to prevent the run since it's suicide to not hold a safety deep over the top in case Beckham runs free. Barkley is going to benefit from loads of free space courtesy of his wide receiver. A young running back with the weight of New York's pressure on his shoulders will have to face fewer defenders at the line of scrimmage. Not a bad bonus as a rookie. 

The Giants had to pay Odell because Gettleman has staked his career on this series of decisions. Eli needs to have more years left. Barkley needs to be a hit. New York does not need to be desperately seeking a young QB immediately. Which means Gettleman needed Odell way more than Odell needed him.