The last time Giants general manager Jerry Reese saw Odell Beckham Jr. on a football field was Jan. 8 in Green Bay, where New York was thumped in the NFC wild-card round. The star wide receiver’s numbers that day: a disappointing four catches for 28 yards with two drops.
Reese thought the next time he'd see Beckham would be during Giants OTAs, which began last week. No such luck.
Beckham instead was 2,500 miles away in Los Angeles working out with bad boy/former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel, not Eli Manning. He was being coached up by Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, not Giants coach Ben McAdoo and his staff.
Beckham once again has made New York tabloid headlines for the wrong reasons. That can't please Reese or Giants owner John Mara as they ponder whether to make OBJ the NFL's highest paid receiver with a price tag in the range of $18 million per year.
As a former GM who now works for an NFL agent group, I understand a star player's reluctance (fear of injury) to participate in all aspects of voluntary OTAs when a mammoth contract is on the horizon. But I would strongly recommend that he demonstrate good faith by showing up and doing at least some conditioning work while abstaining from more intense on-field drills until his new contract is finalized. With the offseason program now shortened to nine weeks, it's important that all players are in attendance, even if they limit their on-field work.
If I were Beckham's agent, I'd have him working out at the Giants facility. And if I were in the shoes of Reese and Mara, I’d be more than a little concerned about whether Beckham is more focused on being a celebrity than being the NFL's best receiver.
While plenty NFL players are skipping OTAs, Beckham is the lightning rod of the group — just the way he likes it. He craves the limelight and enjoys his image. He obviously believes his profile helped him land the largest shoe deal for any NFL player.
Beckham's playoff debacle at Lambeau Field, which included him punching a hole in the stadium wall, followed his ill-advised trip to South Beach to party on a boat and hit the clubs with three teammates and Justin Bieber during the week before the game. Reese at the time fired out on the young star, saying, “He's a smart guy but sometimes he doesn't do smart things,” and it's "time to grow up."
Those are not words a player wants to hear from the guy who signs off on his contract, especially in the first year he is eligible for a huge extension after his rookie deal.
But if Beckham really cared about what Reese says, he would have been in the Meadowlands with his teammates and coaches at the start of the offseason program.