New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will enter this season on the fourth year of his rookie contract that will pay him $1.8 million. He is grossly underpaid by any measure.
In contrast, the hero worship and glorification of quarterbacks, with a racial subtext that cannot be ignored or minimized, is reflected in the glaring disparity of Beckham’s contract juxtaposed with those of average QBs.
Signal callers have the top 15 richest contracts in the NFL. But any argument attempting to justify the salaries of the Arizona Cardinals’ Carson Palmer, the league’s third highest paid player at $24.35 million, Washington’s Kirk Cousins, the fifth highest paid player at $23.94 million, and the Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill, who is No. 15 earning $19.25 million, is highly dubious.
By comparison, Beckham’s shoe deal with Nike, the most lucrative ever for an NFL player, will reportedly pay him an average of $5 million per year for five years, $3 million more than the Giants will pay him this season, with the team holding a fifth year contract option for 2018.
The overstated concept of teams needing a franchise quarterback to be successful will continue to sustain the NFL’s current salary structure. However, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl two seasons ago without one, and teams with so-called franchise QBs, the New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees) and the Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck) for example, are solid bets to not even make the playoffs.
In a video posted on the all-digital sports media platform Uninterrupted last Thursday, the New York Giants wide receiver asserted he endeavors to dramatically alter the league’s salary hierarchy.
“It’s like the elephant in the room, and you know you don’t want to talk about it,” Beckham explained. “But I’ve gotten to the point where I’m like, ‘No, I’m going to’…I believe that I will hopefully be not just the highest paid receiver in the league, but the highest paid [player] period.”
The 24-year-old Beckham ranked eighth on the NFL Networks Top 100 Players of 2017 list. The New England Patriots Tom Brady (ranked first) and the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers (ranked sixth) deservedly are the only quarterbacks ranked higher than Beckham. The only wide receivers above him are Antonio Brown of the Pittsburg Steelers at third on the list and the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones, who came in fourth.
The five highest paid wide receivers in the league by annual salary are Brown at $17 million, the Cincinnati Bengals’ A.J. Green averaging $15 million, Jones, who is paid $14.25 million, followed by Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos and Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, who both earn $14 million. Historically, based on statistical production, Beckham is better than all of them. He reached 3,000 receiving yards faster than any player ever and is one of only three players—John Jefferson and Randy Moss are the others—to have at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons in the league.
In total, Beckham, who was drafted by the Giants in 2014 with the 12th pick in the first round out of LSU, has 288 catches for 4,122 and 35 touchdowns in 43 games. For all of his cult of personality, sideline antics and gossip column forays, his numbers are staggering.
Beckham will never be the highest paid player in the NFL. However, based solely on merit, he deserves to be paid much more than most of the league’s starting quarterbacks.