OBJ would be a polarizing addition for the New York Jets
Free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is preparing to meet with the New York Jets on Monday. It will be a comprehensive meeting, featuring a physical examination and discussions about Beckham’s potential role in the offense. Considering this and the apparent lack of serious interest from other teams, it’s starting to appear likely that Beckham will end up becoming a Jet.
Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons that would come with adding Beckham.
More than anything else, I think adding Beckham would benefit the Jets because of what it would do for the team’s depth. With Beckham in the fold, the Jets would have one of the deepest wide receiver units in the league, putting them in a strong position to handle potential injuries.
At the moment, the Jets already have nice depth from 1-to-4 at wide receiver: Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, and Mecole Hardman. Throw Beckham into the mix, and it’s safe to say New York would have one of the best 1-to-5 lineups in the league.
Davis’ future with the Jets would become uncertain if Beckham is added, but considering he is still on the team and Robert Saleh was singing his praises to the media in Phoenix, it’s possible the Jets plan to keep Davis alongside Beckham.
While keeping Davis with Beckham might not be the wisest allocation of cap space, the Jets’ need for immediate cap space has decreased now that most of the league’s premier free agents are long gone. In a win-now season, perhaps the Jets are prioritizing depth over cap gymnastics – meaning they’d be willing to overpay Davis to ensure the construction of an uber-deep wide receiver depth chart.
Starters will get hurt. It’s inevitable. As a team that hopes to win the Super Bowl this year, it would be nice to have Corey Davis or Mecole Hardman stepping up to fill a vacated starting spot instead of someone like Denzel Mims or Diontae Spencer. By adding Beckham and keeping Davis, the Jets could put themselves in a position where they can suffer up to two injuries in the starting lineup and still be able to have a starting-caliber player ready to replace them. That’s an incredible luxury.
We shall see if the Jets truly do decide to keep Davis in the event Beckham joins the team. Regardless of which path they choose with Davis, signing Beckham can only improve the depth of a wide receiver unit that is already looking quite deep. Even without Davis, a lineup of Wilson-Beckham-Lazard-Hardman is an excellent 1-to-4.
Chemistry with Aaron Rodgers
The Jets already added a player who has chemistry with Aaron Rodgers in Allen Lazard, who played with Rodgers in Green Bay for five years. Adding Beckham would give the Jets two players who Rodgers would love to play with.
Back in October, Rodgers revealed that he and Beckham “have been friends for a number of years now.” Rodgers expressed interest in playing alongside Beckham, stating, “you’re always hoping there’s a time where you can figure things out and play together.”
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) October 4, 2022
We know Rodgers will not hesitate to express his disappointment in the supporting cast around him. The potential drama that could come with Rodgers’ personality is one of the main concerns he will carry to the Jets.
But by adding two of Rodgers’ best friends to the wide receiver room, the Jets could squash any potential drama before it happens. Rodgers would head into the season in great spirits if New York can get both Lazard and Beckham.
It goes the other way, too. There are concerns about how Beckham would fit with the Jets off the field (more on that later). Rodgers’ perfectionist mentality and pursuit of excellence could keep Beckham’s ego in check.
Showed great potential as a complementary weapon in 2021 with Rams
The Jets wouldn’t be asking Beckham to be their No. 1 guy – and it sure seems like they want to express this sentiment to him during Monday’s meeting. Garrett Wilson is the top dog in this offense.
The good news for New York is that Beckham showcased intriguing potential as a complementary weapon during his short stint with the Rams in 2021. For the first time in his career, Beckham was asked to play the Robin role in an offense that already had a Batman – and he did very well.
Beckham played 12 regular season and playoff games for Los Angeles, serving as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Cooper Kupp. While Kupp led the way with 10.8 targets per game during Beckham’s tenure, Beckham averaged only 6.2 targets per game.
Despite the limited number of opportunities, Beckham still made a profound impact. Beckham scored seven touchdowns in those 12 games (pace for about 10 TDs per 17 games). Matthew Stafford had a 110.0 passer rating when targeting Beckham.
If Beckham embraces his role as the Robin to Garrett Wilson’s Batman, he can be a tremendously valuable weapon for the Jets. His 2021 run with the Rams proved he is more than capable of thriving as a No. 2 wideout.
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Staying healthy has been an issue for Beckham throughout his entire career. Since entering the league, Beckham has played in only 96 out of 146 possible regular season games. That’s just 66% of possible games – approximately 11 games in a 17-game season.
Beckham’s injury concerns have been amplified in recent years. In three of the past six seasons, Beckham suffered a major season-ending injury that cost him either an entire season or the majority of a season: an ankle fracture in 2017 (13 games missed), a torn ACL in 2020 (9 games missed), and another torn ACL in the 2021 playoffs (missed entire 2022 season).
This makes Beckham difficult to rely upon. Most likely, the Jets (and other potential suitors) have been trying to land Beckham on a one-year deal since his fragility makes a long-term commitment too risky.
How much is left in the tank?
When we last saw Beckham, he still looked like a great player. Beckham registered 21 catches for 288 yards in just three-and-a-half games of playoff action as he played an instrumental role in the Rams’ eventual Super Bowl victory.
But that was a while ago. Since then, Beckham has suffered a second ACL tear, missed an entire season, and crossed the dreaded age-30 line.
What version of Beckham would the Jets be getting? It’s impossible to know until he hits the field.
While Beckham appeared to be in phenomenal shape during his recent workout in front of NFL teams, we all know it’s foolish to judge players based on how they look in a controlled environment with shorts and a T-shirt (or in Beckham’s case, no shirt). Sure, he might still be athletic enough to shine on a practice field, but how will his knee respond when the pads are on and he is lining up across from Jalen Ramsey or Darius Slay?
From punching the kicking net, to the infamous pre-playoff boat trip, to his recent plane incident, Beckham tends to attract attention for things that do not happen on the football field. How much his antics bother you is a matter of personal preference, but it cannot be denied that off-field drama is something NFL organizations frown upon, so it’s worth noting.
After all, the Jets’ meeting with Beckham will reportedly feature “a thorough discussion of what to expect in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense with a deep WR room”, which suggests the Jets already feel the need to be upfront with Beckham about what his role would be.
A few weeks back, Sauce Gardner squashed the notion that signing Beckham (or other veteran players who would “make Aaron happy”) would ruin the Jets’ locker-room chemistry. In addition, many other Jets players have openly recruited Beckham on social media, so it sure doesn’t seem like he would be unwelcome in the locker room.
With all of that being said, any discussion about Beckham would be incomplete if it did not address the off-field baggage that he carries. It’s part of the equation.
The Jets want to win the Super Bowl this year. For that to happen, everyone in the organization needs to be locked in and on the same page. Will Beckham stay committed if he gets three targets per game over a five-game winning streak?
New York dealt with locker-room drama at the wide receiver position in 2022 when Elijah Moore expressed frustration with his role in the offense despite the team’s success. After the Jets’ third consecutive win, Elijah Moore lashed out at offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and stormed out of practice. Moore proceeded to complain about his lack of targets on social media, and then the news broke that he requested a trade.
Ever since these events, many of Moore’s Jets teammates have defended him on social media, but the Jets’ coaching staff and front office have made it clear how they felt about Moore’s outburst. They benched him for one game and then diminished his snap count once he returned, slowly working him back up to his previous snap count. Then, after the year, the Jets traded him.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas has prioritized building a positive culture since the day he joined the team. Both through the draft and through the veteran market, Douglas has leaned toward high-character players to a more significant degree than most general managers. The organization’s reaction to the antics of Moore is an indicator of how strongly they value the locker-room culture.
Signing Beckham would arguably be Douglas’ most significant departure from his typical off-field preferences. On one hand, this could be viewed as a risk, but on the other hand, it could be viewed as a vote of confidence. If the Beckham deal happens, it probably means Douglas and Saleh have faith that Beckham can check the boxes the team is looking for from a cultural perspective.
Beckham’s off-field question marks would be the most fascinating storyline to follow if he joins the Jets. New York could either live to regret bringing Beckham’s drama into the locker room, or it could prove to be a complete non-issue.
Beckham’s personality certainly didn’t affect the Rams. He was a good soldier and played his part to help Los Angeles win a championship.
The Jets are hoping he can do the same for them.
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