Odell Beckham Jr.’s Contract: Salary cap impact and ramifications of being released

What is the structure of Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract with the Los Angeles Rams, and what does OBJ count against LA's salary cap?

Odell Beckham Jr. signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Rams on Friday, November 11, which included a base salary of $750,000. However, there is more to OBJ’s contract than a barely above NFL veteran minimum base salary. Let’s examine Beckham’s contract and its impact on the Rams salary cap space in 2021

Odell Beckham’s contract contains several team-based incentives

Beckham’s contract has a base value of $1.25 million for this season, which is his cap number with the Rams this year. Of that, $500,000 was paid to him as a signing bonus, and the rest is a fully guaranteed $750,000 salary. However, there are mechanisms in the contract for OBJ to earn up to $4.25 million with the Rams this season.

Yet, instead of making the incentives personalized, which could cause controversy later in the season, the incentives in Beckham’s contract are all team-based. He gets an extra $500,000 if the team earns a bye or a win on Wild Card Weekend. Wins in the Divisional Round and NFC Championship net a further $750,000 each.

OBJ will then get another $500,000 if he is active for the Super Bowl, even if the team loses. That rises to $1 million if the team wins the Super Bowl. That is $3 million in total incentives entirely tied to Beckham buying into the team philosophy in Los Angeles.

Free agency beckons in 2022

This is just a one-year contract in Los Angeles for Beckham. Therefore, he will be a free agent after the 2021 season. That gives Beckham the opportunity to earn up to $4.25 million across the second half of 2021 and potentially cash in on a big contract as a free agent.

If OBJ can have a strong finish to the year, he could increase his stock to be among the premier WR free agents. That is by no means a guarantee. But Beckham’s reputation is such that a strong second half gives him a great opportunity to earn a reasonable contract. In the meantime, he gets to spend time among the stars in LA and potentially win a Super Bowl ring.

What was Beckham’s contract with the Browns?

Prior to his release, Beckham had two years remaining on his deal. However, none of that future money was guaranteed. Thus, he could have been released this offseason anyway. He had a $13.75 million salary in both 2022 and 2023. Beckham also had another $1 million roster bonus and a $250,000 workout bonus.

The reason the Browns are in this situation is that OBJ’s contract was largely guaranteed for 2021. This occurred for two reasons.

Once OBJ was on the roster on March 20 of this year, $12.8 million of his $14.5 million salary became guaranteed. Yet, due to his injury in 2020, the Browns didn’t have a chance to release Beckham ahead of that deadline.

Beckham’s $12.8 million in guarantees included injury. So, when OBJ could not pass a physical ahead of the 2021 campaign, the Browns were somewhat restricted in their options. Ahead of his release, Cleveland restructured Beckham’s deal, ensuring they would save $3 million in cap space in 2021 when they released him.

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