Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins are both potential WR options for the New York Jets, but which is better?
Players actually want to come to the New York Jets?
It can seem like an alternate universe at times, but with the arrival of Aaron Rodgers likely once the Jets and Packers end their staring contest, it’s a reality.
Odell Beckham Jr. is the most prominent of the players who want to play with Rodgers. Following the Elijah Moore trade, it seems like a natural fit.
However, there’s another wide receiver available who might be interested in coming to play with a winner. Though he didn’t specifically mention the Jets, DeAndre Hopkins said he’s heard trade talks.
Two of the top receivers of the 2010s who are starting to get older. Which one is a better option for the Jets, Beckham or Hopkins?
The first factor is a fundamental difference: OBJ is a free agent, while Hopkins would require a return of assets to acquire. The Jets are already short on picks with six and will likely lose more in a Rodgers deal. Do they want to give up more assets for a 31-year-old receiver?
The Cardinals are said to want a second-round pick for Hopkins, but Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer believes the return will be more similar to that of the Brandin Cooks trade: a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-rounder (which is considered the equivalent of a 2023 seventh-rounder to most NFL general managers).
Furthermore, there will likely be a price difference between the two. The rumors that Beckham wants $20 million per year appear to be unfounded, per the man himself. It’s difficult to tell what he actually does want.
However, Hopkins’ contract is verifiable, and it’s likely significantly more than anything OBJ will command. Whoever trades for Hopkins will be on the hook for his base salary of $19.45 million in 2023 and $14.915 million in 2024, as well as option bonuses of $2.25 million in each season.
Although Hopkins has said he would restructure his contract if traded as Cooks did, that’s still a lot of money to be on the hook for. Beckham definitely has an advantage when it comes to cost.
Hopkins has never been a top-end burner, which is actually an advantage as he ages. He still uses route-running and strong hands to gain yardage. In 2022, he missed six games due to suspension and another two due to a knee injury.
In the eight games he played, Hopkins had 64 receptions on 93 targets (68.8%) for 717 yards and three touchdowns. That would translate to 136 catches for 1,524 yards and six touchdowns over the course of a 17-game season. Although this came on a team without many other targets, Hopkins showed that he can still be a highly productive receiver.
Beckham, on the other hand, missed the entire 2022 season due to his torn ACL sustained in Super Bowl 56. His four-game playoff run with the Rams in 2021 included 21 receptions on 25 targets (84%) for 288 yards and two touchdowns despite playing only 14 passing snaps in the Super Bowl.
During the regular season, Beckham put up 27 catches on 45 targets (60%) for 305 yards and five TDs in eight games for the Rams. His combined stats for the year were 44 catches on 79 targets (55.7%) for 537 yards and those five TDs. He has not had a 1,000-yard season since 2019 and has suffered two torn ACLs since.
For what it’s worth, Hopkins was ranked the 26th-best receiver in the NFL in 2022 by ESPN Analytics with an overall score of 65. In 2021, Beckham was ranked 19th with a score of 69 (which is the same score that Garrett Wilson had last season); that year, Hopkins ranked 31st with a 64 score.
Although both Beckham and Hopkins are getting older, Hopkins has a clear advantage in production and consistency. Furthermore, Hopkins’ lack of reliance on speed makes aging less important for him than Beckham, who relies heavily on speed and quickness. The ACL injuries call into question whether OBJ will be impactful, even as a WR2/3.
Despite the ESPN ratings, Hopkins has a clear advantage over Beckham when it comes to production.
After trading Moore, the most natural replacement would be a speedy receiver in the slot. Beckham fits that profile, at least speed-wise, while Hopkins does not.
However, given that Allen Lazard played almost 38% of his snaps as a big slot receiver last year, the need is less pressing than it might appear. With Garrett Wilson’s inside/outside versatility and Mecole Hardman‘s slot speed, the Jets can utilize both Beckham’s and Hopkins’ skillsets with their current talent at the position.
If the team brings in Beckham, it’s likely that he and Lazard will split snaps both inside and outside. With Hopkins, Wilson would likely see some more slot snaps, with Lazard coming off the field in favor of Hardman at times.
There’s no immediate need for one player over the other, although there may be a slight preference for Beckham’s speed in the starting lineup rather than having two contested-catch guys in Hopkins and Lazard. However, Hopkins wins enough on his routes that Wilson is sufficient as the primary YAC player.
Rodgers clearly told the Jets that he would like to play with Beckham, whether it was a demand, request, or wish-list item. He admitted as much when he told Pat McAfee, “Who wouldn’t want to play with Odell?” That is definitely something the Jets will keep in mind.
On the other hand, Hopkins would be much less of a distraction than Beckham. Despite Hopkins’ six-game suspension in 2021 for performance-enhancing drugs, he has generally kept a lower profile throughout his career. Meanwhile, if the Jets traded Moore because of his diva-like antics and putting himself before the team, Beckham has been known for even more dramatics of that nature.
Although OBJ seemingly cleaned up his act after being traded from the Browns to the Rams, there remains the airplane incident a few months ago. Beckham publicly called out his quarterback on ESPN the last time he played in New York and got himself traded one year after signing a five-year, $95 million extension.
Hopkins is a better asset from that perspective.
One underrated aspect to keep in mind is that the Bills appear to be in the running for both players. Would the Jets prefer that they have Beckham and Buffalo has Hopkins, or the reverse?
Who makes more sense?
This is a really tough conclusion to draw. Each player has advantages and disadvantages. I think that the Jets are leaning in Beckham’s direction primarily because of Rodgers’ request. However, I believe that the combination of draft pick and financial compensation required to obtain Hopkins is what will clinch the argument in favor of Beckham, at least in Joe Douglas‘ mind.
However, if the Jets and Beckham cannot agree on a fair price, it is possible that the team pivots to Hopkins. They may also check in on Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, although the price to obtain those players will undoubtedly be steeper (Denver reportedly wants a first-rounder for Jeudy).
From purely a talent perspective, Hopkins is the safer bet at this point. However, all things considered, it is understandable why the Jets would prefer Beckham.
I don’t get why a team like Vegas who are re-building are keeping Devonte Adams.
Football contracts are like advanced grad school calculus.
It appears that his cap hit is $15m this year, $25m next and an exit after 2024 but don’t trust my understanding on this.
If that’s the case, this is the guy I’d want!…but I’m almost certain I’m wrong.
I wish the Jets would pay more attention to the rest of the roster unless they plan on playing 7 on 7.
Signings that make sense to me.
QB Teddy Bridgewater…not that I want to bet the season on Teddy and Zack but for $4m or so it gives them a vet in case Rodgers falls apart and gives a bit of leverage.
C Ben Jones or Ethan Pocic..they’ve signed some backups but would like to go into the draft with a centerand if Schmitz is there it’s a bonus.
FS Adrian Amos
DT Poona Ford..We’ve lost two guys and Buffalo is after him but needs to clear cap space.
JJ Watt…think he might have enough along with Huff JJ and Clemmons so we can trade/cut Lawson who accounts for $15m in savings.
Whitehead and Davis tradedor cut along with Lawson would pay for my wish list.
Pocic re-signed in Cleveland and Watt retired.
I’d agree about Jones and Ford. I’m not a big fan of Adrian Amos because he has allowed 6 TDs in coverage each of the past two seasons and seems to be a liability lately.
I’m not sure what the plan is with Lawson, but I don’t see any way that Davis will remain on the team after they signed Lazard. I think Whitehead will likely go, too, but I’m not 100% certain of that.
Bridgewater would be a nice add. Just tough to commit even more money to the QB room.
Thanks for your opinion and update Rivka.
I wish they would update these things…Going off Spotrac and last look they had both Pocic and Watt available.
I’m reticent to let Lawson go without some vet left at DE.
Huff still hasn’t been tested as a full timer and JJ and Clemmons are both 2nd year guys but that $15m in cap space is very tempting lol