EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. is optimistic about signing a new contract and described his participation in training camp this summer as a calculated risk.
Beckham wants a new deal and negotiations finally started earlier this week, a source told ESPN. It was a long, windy road that hit some potholes along the way, but there is finally some tangible evidence a deal may be done before the start of the season. It has the Giants’ star receiver feeling good about things this summer. The left ankle he broke last year feels 100 percent, and the contract situation is trending in the right direction.
“Optimistic? Yeah. I’m optimistic,” Beckham said in his first news conference since breaking his ankle in October. “I’m confident it will all work itself out. It always does.”
Beckham’s agent Zeke Sandhu was at the team’s facility this week. He was spotted talking with Giants assistant general manager and chief contract negotiator Kevin Abrams.
Beckham didn’t get into specifics and wouldn’t say whether there are any deadlines on negotiations.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he said.
Beckham, 25, has talked in the past about being the NFL’s highest-paid player. But he seems to know that is not logical. The top-paid wide receiver (average per year) is Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown at $17 million. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans received $55 million in total guarantees late last year.
Being the top paid wide receiver is a goal of Beckham’s.
“Of course. Who doesn’t want to get more money? Everybody does,” he said. “Realistically, you try to be realistic with yourself. You see what happened over the offseason. Can’t really worry about everybody else. Just let them figure it out, and whenever it happens it will happen.
Beckham arrived at camp on time and has been working in live drills despite a desire for a new contract. It’s a different approach compared to Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack. They are holding out of camp and skipped OTAs and minicamp this spring.
Beckham has said in the past he doesn’t believe holdouts work. He doesn’t appear overly concerned about putting himself at unnecessary risk either with his financial future at stake.
“Calculated. Calculated,” he said of his approach this summer. “You control your body. We’re practicing. These are your teammates and we’re all working together. There is no extra pushing and shoving and doing too much. So it’s all calculated. And again, I remember not being able to walk at all. To be able to be on the field doing what I love it is truly an amazing feeling.”
This is something Beckham stressed on multiple occasions. He talked about being appreciative of simply being able to play the game he loved after what he experienced last year. He broke his ankle in a Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and needed surgery.
Beckham remembers times where he fell asleep on the couch and had to crawl up the stairs because of the limitations stemming from the injured ankle. He then had a troubling video surface from a trip to France. That spurred talks of a trade at the NFL meetings this offseason.
“Noise. Rumors,” Beckham said. “You never know. I remember I used to say all the time, ‘Don’t take it personal.’ And I still took things personal. I really have gotten that out my heart to not take things personal. With doing that it has left things I used to worry about out of the equation. So once you can really put that in your heart not to take it personal, and you can feel that, it’s a complete different story.”
Beckham attended the start of the team’s offseason workout program, OTAs and minicamp. He wasn’t sure how much that affected his status with the team, but he did admit trying to do what you’re supposed to do.
The Giants and Beckham appear to be on solid footing. He admitted his relationship with new coach Pat Shurmur is strong. It’s a clean slate for the star wide receiver.
“Kind of like I was saying earlier with life, I literally watched as it felt my world turned upside down,” Beckham said. “I watched relationships close to me devour and things go wrong, things go sideways. It was a lot of pain I went through in the last 10 months. So just trying to take it day by day, try my best to make my mindset that everyday I get up I’m going to be happy. I’m going to do this right. I’m going to do the very best that I can. Whatever it is that I was doing just change my mindset. It helped me out a lot with everything.”
It helps that his ankle is healed. He was cleared for practice before minicamp in June.
But it was some time in the past month that he really started to feel like his old self.
“I had been feeling [the ankle] as I was working out. It’s kind of over the last month I’ve taken a huge stride,” Beckham said. “I remember maybe two months ago it wasn’t as smooth and I wasn’t getting out of cuts. You kind of get that frustration and want to get back to where you were at. But now that I’m here, It has been a lot of hard work put it. Lot of doctors, lot of treatment, lot of rehab, lot of pain that you’ve been in. It’s nice to be here now.”
Now he’s concentrating on football. Beckham is excited about the prospects of a new offense working with Eli Manning, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. It’s all roses with a new season and new contract seemingly on the horizon.
“I just want to make it fun again,” Beckham said. “I just want to play football the way I used to play football and play with that love and that passion and do some great things. I know coach has it lined up for us.”