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Why does it feel as though Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the hottest commodities remaining on the NFL’s free-agent market?
Not only was Beckham reportedly on the wish list Aaron Rodgers issued to the New York Jets, and not only was OBJ the talk of the town while in attendance at the league’s owners meetings this week, but the 30-year-old “has offers on the table from multiple teams,” according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
It’s odd to me that Beckham is apparently in such high demand, so much so that he’s made it clear he expects a contract worth more than $4 million per year.
Beckham, and some of the teams pursuing him, might need to be reminded that it’s not 2016.
That’s the last year Beckham was a Pro Bowler, and the last year he started 16 games or scored double-digit touchdowns. Since, he’s lacked consistency, battled injuries and occasionally caused distractions over the course of more than half a decade.
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Now, he’s coming off a lost season after tearing his ACL in Super Bowl LVI. Even if he’s fully healthy at this point, you have to wonder what you’re going to get from a guy who played a solid role during that 2021 playoff run with the Los Angeles Rams but caught just 56.3 percent of the passes thrown his way down the stretch with that team and hasn’t posted a rate above 60 percent in that metric since 2018.
And yet, here we are talking about a receiver well beyond his prime coming off a lost season who wants a decent chunk of change, all while there’s radio silence surrounding his former teammate, Jarvis Landry, who is also 30 and coming off injuries but has significantly better rated-based numbers in recent years.
And about that salary expectation. Mack Hollins was much more productive in 2022 than Beckham was in his last full-ish NFL campaign, but Hollins fetched just a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Trent Sherfield is three years younger and coming off a somewhat promising, borderline breakout campaign with the Miami Dolphins, but the Buffalo Bills are giving him just $1.8 million on a one-year deal.
Throw in that veterans DeAndre Hopkins, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are reportedly up for grabs on the trade market, and there’s little reason anybody should be rushing to put eggs in Beckham’s basket.
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The only players in Beckham’s age range to land contracts worth more than $4 million per season this offseason are Robert Woods and Adam Thielen, but both have been healthier and more productive than Beckham on a pretty consistent basis for the last half decade.
Recent drafts have been loaded with wide receiver talent, causing a wide array of veteran movement throughout the league at that position. There’s no shortage of quality at the position right now and plenty of upside.
Possibly as part of an effort to pave the way for Beckham, the Jets just traded away 23-year-old recent second-round pick Elijah Moore, whose average approximate value in his first two seasons with the team (3.5) was close to that of Beckham’s average AV in his last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Rams (4.5). Now a member of the Browns, Moore and his much higher ceiling will cost Cleveland less than $1.5 million in 2023.
The Dallas Cowboys already made the mistake of falling too hard for nostalgia this offseason by acquiring and overpaying Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore beyond their respective primes, and somebody will follow suit soon with Beckham.
Despite all the analytics and money involved in this complicated business, teams will never learn when it comes to weighing what guys have done versus what guys should be expected to do.
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