Odell Beckham Jr. is the best NFL free agent still available on the open market, and he appears to be inching closer to a return. While there are conflicting reports regarding when he’ll be medically cleared from the torn ACL he suffered in February’s Super Bowl, Beckham seems likely to sign with a new team within the next month or so.
Now that the 2022 trade deadline is in the rearview mirror, clubs in need of a wide receiver will be looking in Beckham’s direction. Let’s run through the top 12 teams that should be expected to express interest in OBJ and examine his potential fit.
Top Landing Spots for Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham is reportedly targeting a multi-year contract, and his camp has floated the idea of a Michael Gallup-level deal. Gallup received five years and $57.5 million ($23 million guaranteed) from the Cowboys after suffering his own ACL tear.
However, free agents signing pacts in November typically don’t receive that level of commitment or financial investment. A contract that runs through 2024 seems viable, though. Such a deal would offer the team that signs Beckham upside if he performs well down the stretch while allowing them to spread his cap chargers over two seasons.
Here are a dozen contending teams — or rather, 11 contenders and one club that’s been heavily linked to Beckham (sorry, Packers fans) — that could make sense for OBJ.
The Ravens were already in need of pass-catching help before Rashod Bateman suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury last week. With Bateman sidelined, Baltimore will rely on Demarcus Robinson, James Proche, Tylan Wallace, and free agent addition DeSean Jackson to fill in the gaps behind Mark Andrews and Devin Duvernay.
Of course, the Ravens don’t run a standard NFL offense. They’ve used two-back and/or two-tight formations (12, 21, and 22 personnel) on more than 80% of their plays. Baltimore has deployed 11 personnel (three wide receivers) just 13% of the time.
This isn’t an offense that mandates a dynamic No. 2 wideout; even the No. 1 role can lead to frustration. Marquise Brown requested a trade after becoming disillusioned with his role in Baltimore’s scheme. If Beckham has multiple suitors, he may not want to become a tertiary threat in the Ravens’ offense.
Even after losing to the Jets on Sunday, the Bills are still slotted into a No. 1 seed, and FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction model gives Buffalo the best odds (44%) of landing a first-round playoff bye in the AFC.
If Beckham wants to join a surefire contender and attempt to win his second consecutive Super Bowl trophy, the Bills will make for an excellent fit. Von Miller, OBJ’s teammate for a half-season with the Rams, has done his best to recruit Beckham to western New York.
Buffalo passes as much as any team in the NFL, but Beckham would only be the club’s third option behind Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Those two receivers spend most of their time out wide, while OBJ has never played many of his snaps in the slot, so the Bills would have to get creative with their formations.
Plus, the Bills have less than $1 million in available cap space, the lowest total in the league. General manager Brandon Beane could restructure a contract or get creative with incentives to fit Beckham in under the cap, but Buffalo probably can’t offer the most significant deal.
The Bengals will be without Ja’Marr Chase for a few more weeks as he deals with a hip injury. Cincinnati didn’t place Chase on injured reserve, which means they think he can return without missing at least four games, but hip injuries can be tricky.
Joe Burrow and Co. have seen mixed results without Chase on the field. They were embarrassed by the Browns in Week 8, posting just 4.6 yards per play in a blowout Halloween loss. The Bengals dominated the Panthers in Week 9, but most of their success came via the rushing attack.
Beckham could theoretically serve as a Chase replacement, but their health timelines seem to be nearly synced up. Thus, OBJ would become the best No. 4 receiver in the league while playing behind Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd — and that’s probably not the role he’s craving.
The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Browns in March, and they’re still trying to replace him. Dallas reportedly made a run at Brandin Cooks and Jerry Jeudy at the trade deadline but couldn’t finalize a deal with the Texans or Broncos.
Now that Dak Prescott is back under center, Jerry Jones seems to be willing to add another offensive piece, and Beckham is the most obvious weapon available. The Cowboys’ offense ranks third in the NFL in expected points added per play since Dak has returned, and they’d like to keep the unit humming.
Adding Beckham to play on the outside would allow CeeDee Lamb to become a full-time slot player in three-WR sets. He’s posted marginally better yards per route run from the slot in 2022, and his skill set aligns better with inside work. OBJ would compete with Gallup to become Dak’s No. 2 option, while Noah Brown would get pushed further down the depth chart.
Green Bay Packers
Beckham really could have helped the Packers had he been healthy a month ago. Now, it’s probably too late. FiveThirtyEight gives Green Bay just a 5% chance to make the playoffs, and Aaron Rodgers already seems so checked out that he might not even notice if the Packers signed OBJ.
Green Bay is in a precarious position, and Beckham isn’t in a position to assist them. If the Packers stage a miraculous turnaround over the next several weeks, they could start to look appealing to Beckham, but that’s highly unlikely.
Beckham could sign with the Packers if his main objective is simply playing time. Injuries have devastated Green Bay’s receiving corps. Randall Cobb is on IR, Romeo Doubs suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday, and Christian Watson is in the concussion protocol.
OBJ could gobble up targets for the Packers over the tail end of the season and hope his production catapults him into an expensive 2023 contract. But Green Bay’s offense has shown no cohesion through nine weeks, so it’s hard to imagine Beckham suddenly becoming a WR1 again.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 41.4 pass attempts per game, so there should be enough targets to go around in Kansas City, even if Beckham comes aboard. OBJ would get to catch balls from the best quarterback in the game and be assured of reaching the postseason again.
Still, I’d guess the Toney trade squashed any notion of Beckham joining the Chiefs. Kansas City would probably still love to have him, but OBJ will have better options than joining what would be a five-deep receiving corps that already includes JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Los Angeles Rams
A reunion with the Rams has always seemed like the most likely outcome for Beckham, and Los Angeles had made it known they’d like to re-sign OBJ. However, Beckham indicated in October that the Rams had offered him the “lowest of low offers,” so the two sides might not match up on a contract.
Still, LA feels like the snuggest fit. Beckham is already familiar with Sean McVay’s offense, so he wouldn’t have to worry about learning a new scheme as he continues his recovery.
The Rams are also desperate for reinforcements on offense. Beckham isn’t going to fix LA’s offensive line or run game issues. But he could open up a unit that’s dead last in the NFL with just 4.7 yards per play.
After losing to the Buccaneers on Sunday, the Rams are 3-5 and on the fringes of playoff contention. Still, McVay and Les Snead aren’t built to wave the white flag — if they want to augment their offense at this stage in the game, Beckham is probably their only option.
The Vikings reportedly held internal discussions about Beckham heading into the trade deadline, so he’s at least on their radar. However, Minnesota added tight end T.J. Hockenson at the deadline. They might be done acquiring offensive firepower.
Beckham worked with Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell in Los Angeles, so learning the offense shouldn’t be a problem. And Minnesota is ticketed for the playoffs after starting the season 7-1. Their ever-widening NFC North lead means the Vikings wouldn’t need to rush OBJ onto the field.
Beckham could overtake K.J. Osborn as Minnesota’s third wide receiver. But even then, he might be fourth in line for targets behind Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Hockenson, plus Dalvin Cook is involved in the passing game, too.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are still on the edge of the postseason race, and they could certainly use help at wide receiver. Michael Thomas will miss the rest of the year after undergoing toe surgery, while free agent addition Jarvis Landry has been banged up.
First-round rookie Chris Olave has been outstanding this season and could be the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but New Orleans needs to give Andy Dalton another pass catcher if they hope to make a run.
Beckham has claimed he wants his next club to be his version of a forever home, a landing spot where he can finish his career. If that’s the case, the Saints stand out as a perfect destination for the Baton Rouge native and LSU alum.
New York Giants
A Beckham-Giants reunion would have been unthinkable 10 months ago, but with Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll now running the show in New York, anything is possible. OBJ visited some Giants players in early October, but it wasn’t an official free agent visit, and Schoen wasn’t even aware of the meeting.
“I had no idea he was in the building until he was out of the building,” Schoen said last week. “Obviously, he’s been a good player. He’s a guy we would consider and talk to when he’s healthy. I think he did the ACL in February, so not sure really where he is physically. But yeah, any player that would upgrade the roster, we’re going to consider and have conversations with their representatives.”
No contending team needs wide receivers more than the Giants. Running back Saquon Barkley leads the club with 35 targets — no receiver has more than 26. Toney has been traded, Sterling Shepard is on IR, and Kenny Golladay’s face has been on milk cartons for months.
Beckham would almost instantly become Big Blue’s de facto WR1, and he’d likely get another shot at the playoffs. Who wouldn’t love to see OBJ back in New York?
While the Seahawks haven’t been linked to Beckham this season, they were in the running for OBJ after the Browns released him in 2021. At one point, Seattle was thought to be his preferred destination.
Things are much different now for the Seahawks than they were a year ago. Geno Smith has taken over at quarterback and is putting up a second-tier MVP-caliber season, while Seattle’s offense is among the 10 most efficient in the NFL.
One characteristic has remained the same — the Seahawks are still incredibly top-heavy at wide receiver. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett each have at least 66 targets, but no other receiver has more than 26.
Marquise Goodwin has turned into Seattle’s WR3, but he’s dealing with a groin injury, and the Seahawks haven’t gotten anything out of 2021 second-rounder Dee Eskridge. Beckham could become one of the NFL’s better third wideouts in Seattle, and he’d give the Hawks insurance in case of a Metcalf or Lockett injury.
Heading into Sunday Night Football, ESPN’s Ed Werder asked Titans head coach Mike Vrabel about the long-term viability of Derrick Henry’s massive workload, and Vrabel offered a typically colorful response.
“We’ve been able to use him, and he’s helped us win a lot of games since I’ve been here. I don’t know what else we would do — throw it 50 times? I mean, who the (expletive) would we throw it to?’’
Tennessee’s passing attempts will increase once Ryan Tannehill gets back under center, and the Titans need to get him another weapon. Robert Woods is a capable receiver, but he’s not a No. 1 for a team likely heading toward an AFC South title. Woods, first-round rookie Treylon Burks, and Beckham would give Tennessee a competent receiving corps for the stretch run.