In his eight-year NFL career, Odell Beckham Jr. has had plenty of ups and downs. Since being drafted 12th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, Beckham has played for three teams and been traded twice in a three-year stretch. Let’s examine the timeline of Beckham’s career, both in the NFL and during his time at college.
Odell Beckham Jr. was a star long before his NFL career began
As a high school student in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Beckham was a three-sport star, including both basketball and track alongside football. On the gridiron, Beckham played wide receiver, running back, quarterback, and cornerback. In his final two years at Isidore Newman School, Beckham had 1,753 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. As a senior, he topped 1,000 receiving yards and had 19 receiving touchdowns on 50 receptions. He also added 331 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 90 passing yards, a passing touchdown, and averaged 30 yards per punt return.
Beckham was viewed as a four-star recruit, the sixth-best WR in the class, and the 40th-highest-ranked athlete in the nation. OBJ received offers from Ole Miss, Nebraska, and Mississippi State but chose to remain in Louisiana with LSU. On a 13-1 LSU team, Beckham made an instant impact, being named a freshman All-SEC selection. He finished second on the team with 41 receptions and 475 yards and third in terms of receiving touchdowns with 2.
Following a strong freshman campaign, Beckham backed that up with another impressive season as a sophomore. He pulled in a similar number of receptions (43) but totaled 713 receiving yards at 16.6 yards per reception. However, in his second year at LSU, he had 2 punt return touchdowns with 320 yards on 35 returns.
Beckham went from strength to strength in his junior season. He hauled in 59 receptions for 1,152 yards and 8 touchdowns. Beckham won the 2013 Paul Hornung Award thanks to his versatility as a receiver and kick returner. As a returner and all-purpose contributor, Beckham was named first-team All-SEC and made the second-team purely as a receiver.
Beckham was a top 15 selection in the 2014 NFL Draft
After forgoing his senior season, Beckham was selected No. 12 overall by the New York Giants in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was the third receiver drafted, behind Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. Beckham signed a four-year contract worth $10.4 million with a fifth-year option.
Despite missing the majority of training camp, preseason, and the first four games of the season, Beckham would win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He finished the year with 91 receptions, 1,305 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns in just 12 games. He set or tied a number of franchise rookie records, including the most receptions by a rookie in a seven-game span.
During Week 12, Beckham pulled in a one-handed reception that was called the “catch of the year” and is considered one of the best catches of all time. He replaced Calvin Johnson in the Pro Bowl and became the first Giants rookie receiver to make the event. As a rookie, Beckham was voted to the cover of Madden, becoming the youngest player ever on the cover.
Beckham followed up that impressive rookie campaign with two more good years. He had a total of 197 receptions, 2,817 receiving yards, and 23 touchdowns. At the end of his first three seasons, OBJ averaged 96 receptions, 1,374 receiving yards, and 11.7 receiving touchdowns per year.
Controversy marred Beckham’s early years with the Giants
After being considered one of the NFL’s poster boys after his rookie season, the next couple of years saw Beckham make the headlines for the wrong reasons.
In Week 15 of the 2015 season, Beckham was flagged four times, including three for personal fouls. This was due to several confrontations with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. His ill-discipline during that game saw Beckham suspended without pay for one game.
In 2016, Beckham was fined in each of the first two weeks. First for a celebration dance and then for an illegal blindside hit on an opponent. In the third week of the season, Beckham slammed his helmet into the kicking net, which rebounded to hit him in the face. Further incidents during the year included bumping an official, proposing to a kicking net, and banging his head against a metal door.
The Giants made the playoffs that season. However, six days prior, Beckham was among a group of Giants players who were photographed partying in Miami after the conclusion of the regular season. New York would lose to the Packers in Lambeau Field the following week, after which Beckham punched a hole in the visitor’s locker room.
Fifth-year option and contract extension
In 2017, the Giants exercised Beckham’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract. However, Beckham would play just four games that season due to injury. Despite the injuries, the Giants signed Beckham to a five-year contract extension worth $95 million. The deal contained $41 million in full guarantees, with $65 million in total guarantees.
Unfortunately, Beckham ended that year by missing the final four games due to a quad injury. During the season and the subsequent offseason, Beckham’s relationship with the Giants deteriorated. That led to the franchise looking to trade the receiver they had signed to a contract extension just one year earlier.
Beckham was traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2019
In 2019, Beckham and pass rusher Olivier Vernon were traded to the Browns. In return, the Giants got back S Jabrill Peppers, G Kevin Zeitler, and first and third-round selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
His first year in Cleveland was a success. OBJ recorded 1,035 receiving yards on 74 receptions with 4 receiving touchdowns. Unfortunately, things would go downhill from there. Beckham played just seven games in 2020, registering 23 receptions for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground before a torn ACL ended his season.
Beckham returned to the field in 2021. Yet, his production remained stagnant. After being activated for the first time in Week 3, Beckham had just 17 receptions for 232 yards through his first six games.
Following their Week 8 loss, Beckham’s father posted a video criticizing how Beckham was utilized in the Browns’ offense. OBJ was subsequently excused from practice before being waived by the Browns on November 8, 2021.
A whirlwind free agency and signing with the Rams
As a free agent for the first time in his career, Beckham did not rush to sign. He reportedly received interest from a number of teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots. He signed with the Rams on November 11 and made his debut for the team in Week 10, just four days later.
Beckham had a strong finish to the regular season in LA. He caught 5 touchdowns and went for 305 yards on 27 receptions from 48 targets. He also caught a TD on Wild Card Weekend, his first career postseason score in his second postseason game.