Time for Giants to get new deal done for OBJ

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - MLB/NFL - NEWS­DAY

De­spite lin­ger­ing un­cer­tainty about Odell Beck­ham Jr.’s con­tract, it’s a lock that things will work out and the su­per­star wide re­ceiver will re­main in a Giants’ uni­form.

For a long, long time. So says one of Beck­ham’s clos­est friends.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that things will work out for him,” third-year wide re­ceiver Ster­ling Shep­ard told News­day after Tues­day’s mini­camp prac­tice. “I’ve never seen any­body work as hard as that guy, and I’ve never seen a guy that wants it as much as him.”

Beck­ham is in the fi­nal year of his rookie con­tract, and is due to make $8.5 mil­lion in 2018. But with al­most all the star play­ers from his draft class of 2014 hav­ing signed new deals many of them worth twice that much - Beck­ham re­mains in limbo. He showed up for this week’s mini­camp, and took part in in­di­vid­ual drills and some half-speed team pe­ri­ods. But de­spite be­ing cleared to re­turn from an an­kle in­jury he suf­fered early last sea­son, he did not par­tic­i­pate in full-speed team ses­sions.

Not a prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to Shep­ard. When all is said and done, Beck­ham will be out there when the games start.

“Ev­ery­thing is al­ways work­ing out for that dude,” Shep­ard said. “It’s like he’s got some spe­cial power or some­thing. But he works for it, and that’s what it comes down to. It’s the guys that want it the most that are go­ing to work hard for it. That’s all I’ve ever seen out of him since I’ve known him.”

Bot­tom line: “There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be back, and you’ll be see­ing (No.) 13 light it up in the sta­dium.”

Get­ting from here to there will take some do­ing, though.

The Giants have shown no ur­gency in get­ting a new deal done, and there’s even the pos­si­bil­ity they will want Beck­ham to play out the fi­nal year of his deal. But with so many new con­tracts be­ing awarded to play­ers with less tal­ent than Beck­ham, he shouldn’t con­sider such an op­tion. Even if it means hold­ing out of train­ing camp, or else not par­tic­i­pat­ing fully in prac­tice, there’s no way he should step onto the field for the opener against the Jaguars un­less he has a new deal in hand.

Beck­ham hasn’t given any public in­di­ca­tion of what he might do; in fact, he hasn’t spo­ken to re­porters since be­ing in­jured in Week 5 last sea­son, al­though he may talk this week.

Of course, he did set off a firestorm of con­tro­versy when a video of him in bed with a wo­man who ap­peared to be do­ing drugs was posted in March, en­rag­ing team owner John Mara and lead­ing to spec­u­la­tion Beck­ham would be traded.

But the Giants never in­tended to trade him, nor do they plan to do so now.

Beck­ham has at least met the team in the mid­dle show­ing up for part of the off­sea­son con­di­tion­ing pro­gram and show­ing up this week. And if you don’t think a more stri­dent re­ac­tion from him was pos­si­ble, con­sider that sev­eral other high-pro­file play­ers with con­tract is­sues have boy­cotted manda­tory mini­camps. That in­cludes Fal­cons re­ceiver Julio Jones, who has three years re­main­ing on a five-year, $71.3 mil­lion deal, Rams de­fen­sive tackle Aaron Don­ald, Raiders pass rusher Khalil Mack and Sea­hawks safety Earl Thomas.

Beck­ham has opted not to turn up that kind of heat, es­pe­cially not when he’s com­ing off a sea­son-end­ing in­jury and when the Giants have a new coach in Pat Shur­mur. But given Beck­ham’s value to the team, and given how much bet­ter he makes Eli Man­ning as a quar­ter­back, there’s no ques­tion he’s an es­sen­tial player for this team.

Maybe the most es­sen­tial.

This isn’t the first con­tract stale­mate the Giants have dealt with, and it cer­tainly won’t be the last. But it’s clearly the most im­por­tant, and any­thing less than a long-term res­o­lu­tion will suf­fice.

Time to get a deal done.

An­thony DelMundo / TNS

Odell Beck­ham Jr. at­tends prac­tice at the New York Giants train­ing fa­cil­ity on May 21.

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