Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will enter 2022 free agency coming off his second reconstructive knee surgery in 15 months — that setback has to hurt the earning power of his next contract. But given Beckham’s career renaissance and impressive stats with the Los Angeles Rams, the three-time Pro Bowler will still have suitors this offseason. The question is when, not if.
Odell Beckham Jr.: Free Agency Overview
Beckham might have to wait until after the 2022 NFL Draft on career clarity. He would have been a hot commodity had he not gotten hurt again in the Super Bowl. But now, with a long recovery ahead and plenty of other good receivers expected to reach free agency, it would not at all be a surprise if he doesn’t sign with a team until May — if not beyond.
Recapping Beckham’s 2021 season
Let’s begin at the end: Odell Beckham Jr. is a Super Bowl champion. That was his goal when he signed with the Rams after two and a half lost years in Cleveland. Beckham missed the first two games of the 2021 season rehabbing a torn ACL suffered the previous fall, and even when he returned, something just wasn’t right.
He and Baker Mayfield were oil and water in Cleveland, and Beckham finished his time with the Browns with just 114 catches for 1,586 yards and 7 touchdowns in 29 games. But a change of scenery changed his career. In 12 games (including the playoffs) with the Rams in 2021, Beckham had 48 catches for 593 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was on track for a big-time payday in free agency. But then came the Super Bowl, when he tore the same ACL again.
Beckham’s contract estimate and salary cap implications
Everything depends on Beckham’s medicals. Considering he’ll be just seven months removed from his second torn ACL on the same knee in less than two years, any deal he signs will provide significant protections for the organization that offers it.
Expect an incentive-laden, short-term deal — not unlike the one he signed with the Rams after getting cut by the Browns midseason. That deal ultimately turned out to be a solid one for Beckham, who earned $3 million in incentives by winning the Super Bowl.
Spotrac still projects Beckham’s market value at $26.4 million over two years. Still, he will probably come close to that amount only if there are significant protections for the organization signing him. Returning to the Rams makes the most sense, but they have big-time cap problems.
Possible landing spots for Beckham
The Rams are more than $13 million over the cap in 2022, and Beckham is far from their only free agent. Von Miller, Darious Williams, Sony Michel, and Austin Corbett are just a few of LA’s UFAs.
If the Rams can’t make it work financially with Beckham, the pool of teams that make sense is relatively shallow. Given his mercurial history, teams without strong leadership and an above-average quarterback probably won’t be interested. The Chiefs, Patriots, Seahawks, and perhaps the Chargers and Cardinals are among the teams we expect to kick the tires.
What they’re saying about Beckham
“I know what a huge impact he’s had on our football team since we got him. It was heartbreaking to see that because of how much [he went through] just to get to that moment. And he had really made an impact with those two catches that were huge plays. I think he was in line for a big game.” — Rams coach Sean McVay, the morning after Super Bowl 56