Some call him a diva and a crybaby, others call him the best wide receiver in football. Whichever side you’re on, one of the league’s most talented and intriguing young prospects is available at a fraction of the cost, and the Colts should pounce on obtaining him as soon as possible.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s NFL career has been somewhat of a mixed bag. On one side, the 26 year old has had several distracting incidents and sideline explosions. He’s been labeled by the mainstream media as an individual who only cares about himself, and as someone who is detrimental to a locker room.
On the other hand, he’s had one of the best starts to a professional career at the wide receiver position. In his first three seasons, the wide-out totaled 4,122 yards and was on pace to break Jerry Rice’s all-time receiving yard record in roughly five fewer seasons. While injuries over the last two seasons have forced him to miss half of the Giants’ games, he could still surpass Rice’s record if he were to somehow last the same 21 years that the greatest receiver of all time had.
For some reason, the Giants’ organization has hinted over the last two seasons that the bad outweighs the good, even if the bad is somewhat overstated. When looking closer at Beckham Jr.’s ‘issues,’ there’s a clear separation between him and those who actually cause problems with their organizations.
While the old curmudgeons that make up the majority of unhappy fans, media members and management officials might not like his touchdown celebrations or run-ins with the sideline goal posts, there has been no indication that it’s created a negative effect on his relationships with his teammates or caused disruption in the locker room. Rather, there has yet to be a teammate to come out and talk negatively about Beckham Jr. — no matter how badly those in control would like to write the narrative.
Jarvis Landry, a college teammate of OBJ at LSU, had the following to say about his close friend on the Simms & Lefkoe podcast:
“He’s the most unselfish guy that I’ve ever played with, that I’ve ever known, one of the most unselfish guys that I’ve ever known,” Landry told Simms & Lefkoe. “You’ve got to be in a room with him, you’ve got to talk to him ... to really know who he is.”
Don’t care for a collegiate teammate that hasn't shared a locker room with him in a couple years? Here’s current teammate and rookie of the year Saquon Barkley on his electric teammate:
“Odell’s a very special player. He’s a very special person,” Barkley told Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. “That’s the biggest thing about Odell, he’s a very special person. The things he does, and the way he prepares is really admirable.”
Believe them or not, Beckham Jr.’s alleged ‘antics’ seem more like a cover-up for their actual problems opposed to the actual truth. The Mara and Manning families have used their wire of connections to write their own narrative that hides Eli Manning’s deterioration and the team’s inability to build a sturdy offensive line or hire the right coaching staff, and instead have put the blame all on the young wide receiver that’s an easy target given his passion for the game.
Another reason people may be turned off from Beckham Jr. is the hefty contract he signed last season, making him the highest-paid wide receiver in all of football. His five-year, $90 million deal includes $65 million guaranteed, but a majority of that contract is front-loaded. Over $40 million of his guaranteed money is paid off by the end of the 2019 season, and his cap hit declines every year and ends in 2023 at $15 million.
While the Giants may have screwed up managing the personnel side of things, they were able to give out a contract that actually benefits the Colts. With an estimated $107.56 million in cap space this offseason, the Colts would easily be able to eat the early portions of his contract and still have cap flexibility years later when its time to pay their younger talents like Darius Leonard or Quenton Nelson.
Now that I’ve (hopefully) eased your concerns with the potential distractions and contract woes Beckham Jr. may cause, it’s time to talk his impact on the Indianapolis Colts. It’s no secret that Indianapolis’ receiving group — excluding tight ends and receiving backs — is one of the weaker position groups in the NFL. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars (33) and Denver Broncos (29) had more drops last season than the Colts (28), and the Colts second- and fourth- highest players in receiving yards were a tight end, Eric Ebron, and a running back, Nyheim Hines.
T.Y. Hilton has taken on a heavy load over the last few seasons, and caught over a third of balls thrown to Indy wide receivers in 2018. His 1,270 receiving yards were 46 percent of the receivers yards last year, not to mention he was playing with injury for a majority of the year. Indianapolis was known for its prolific one-two combinations over the last two decades, from Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, to Wayne and Hilton. Why not keep the train rolling with what would immediately become the best one-two combo in the NFL with OBJ and TY.
One of the areas OBJ’s game could certainly help Indianapolis is in the deep passing game. The Colts were in the bottom half last season in catches of more than 25 yards, having just 31 all year, and were the 16th ranked team in 100-yard receiving games at six. In his first 59 games, Beckham Jr. had 24 games of 100+ receiving yards and six games in which he AVERAGED 20 yards or more per reception.
Not only should Hilton and Beckham Jr. thrive on a field together, but their talent alone will open up more opportunities for one another against defenses that can’t double cover both at the same time. The only problem they may have? Deciding who gets to wear the jersey number 13.
The only possible question remaining is what it will cost the Colts to bring in the stud wide-out. Whether it be draft picks, which the Colts have plenty of, or experienced players in positions of need, which the Colts also have a surplus of, there’s enough in the organization to get it done. Chris Ballard nailed the majority of the 11 draft picks from 2018 and, with eight or nine picks in 2019 (depending on compensatory picks), who’s to say the GM couldn’t afford packaging his first round pick with either a future draft selection or starting-caliber talent to bring in OBJ.
Since the wide receiver position is one of the biggest glaring needs for the Colts this offseason, it’s likely they'd attempt to take a receiver or two in this year’s draft. It’s extremely unlikely there will be a player selected that holds the raw talent and/or potential that Beckham Jr. possesses.
You might hate him for the overblown antics or be uninterested because of his contract and injury concerns, but a once-in-a-generation talent has never been available for less. It’s certainly a long shot given the Colts front office’s love for developing homegrown talent through the draft and not overspending, but given the position of need, schematic fit and sky-high potential, putting No. 13 in a new blue and white jersey should be the one outlier this organization permits.