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Odell Beckham

Is Beckham still a No. 1 wide receiver?

I was surprised when the Ravens signed Odell Beckham to a one-year contract worth $15 million guaranteed, with another $3 million available in incentives. Seems like a lot for a 30-year-old receiver who’s torn his ACL twice in the last three years. But I am warming up to the move.

The money isn’t as eye-popping as I initially thought, given the financial state of the game. There are currently 21 other wide receivers making at least $15 million per year. And there are probably another 20 receivers still on their rookie contracts who’ll soon be signing deals worth over $15 million. So Beckham isn’t getting slotted in as one of the top dozen wide receivers in the game; he’s actually outside the top 40, financially, in the grand scheme of things.

Hunter Renfrow, Allen Robinson and Courtland Sutton are all making $15 million plus (though admittedly, their teams thought they would be better when they signed them to those deals). Christian Kirk is making $18 million; Beckham might be as good (or better) than him. More currently, Jakobi Meyers and Allen Lazard signed contracts averaging $11 million. I think Beckham at $15 million can fairly be weighed against those guys at $11 million.

In the chart below (with numbers from OverTheCap.com) I’m listing all wide receivers who are currently on contracts averaging over $10 million. Following those guys (and tagged with black dots) are most of the key rookies who haven’t yet signed their second contracts.

RECEIVERS AVERAGING $10 MILLION
Player$Avg Per Yr
Tyreek Hill$30,000,000
Davante Adams$28,000,000
DeAndre Hopkins$27,250,000
Cooper Kupp$26,700,000
A.J. Brown$25,000,000
DK Metcalf$24,000,000
Stefon Diggs$24,000,000
Deebo Samuel$23,850,000
Terry McLaurin$23,200,000
DJ Moore$20,628,000
Keenan Allen$20,025,000
Chris Godwin$20,000,000
Amari Cooper$20,000,000
Mike Williams$20,000,000
Diontae Johnson$18,355,000
Christian Kirk$18,000,000
Tyler Lockett$17,300,000
Mike Evans$16,500,000
Hunter Renfrow$15,850,000
Allen Robinson$15,500,000
Courtland Sutton$15,000,000
Odell Beckham$15,000,000
Corey Davis$12,500,000
Michael Gallup$11,500,000
Curtis Samuel$11,500,000
Jakobi Meyers$11,000,000
Allen Lazard$11,000,000
Tyler Boyd$10,750,000
DeVante Parker$10,166,667
Tim Patrick$10,000,000
Michael Thomas$10,000,000
Brandin Cooks$10,000,000
Marquez Valdes-Scantling$10,000,000
• JaMarr Chase$7,704,911
• Jaylen Waddle$6,771,499
• Drake London$5,383,618
• Garrett Wilson$5,138,502
• DeVonta Smith$5,035,348
• Chris Olave$4,817,968
• Jameson Williams$4,365,448
• Jerry Jeudy$3,798,240
• Jahan Dotson$3,762,089
• Treylon Burks$3,592,398
• CeeDee Lamb$3,502,504
• Kadarius Toney$3,429,877
• Justin Jefferson$3,280,702
• Brandon Aiyuk$3,132,838
• Marquise Brown$2,946,835
• Calvin Ridley$2,725,183
• Christian Watson$2,310,257
• Elijah Moore$2,235,106
• Tee Higgins$2,171,697
• Michael Pittman$2,153,211
• George Pickens$1,688,047
• Chase Claypool$1,654,159
• Alec Pierce$1,650,336
• Skyy Moore$1,612,627

Re-watching Beckham’s catches from when he was with the Rams for half a season, he was better than I thought. Especially around the goal line. Inside the 10, he caught all 5 passes thrown his way, including 4 touchdowns. He caught another short score in the playoff win over Arizona and caught a red-zone touchdown in the Super Bowl. Most of those plays are impressive, with good route-running and catching balls over defenders. He can be a plus player in that part of the field.

Those plays, of course, aren’t easy to execute. They require precise timing and accurate throws. Matthew Stafford was really on his game that year, zipping some throws into tight windows. If we wind the clock back to Cleveland, Beckham wasn’t productive in that area. During his time with the Browns, he caught only 3 of the 12 passes thrown his way inside the 10-yard line, with 2 TDs.

So a key question is whether Lamar Jackson as a red zone thrower is going to be more like Stafford or Baker Mayfield?

I also re-watched a bunch of Jackson’s touchdown passes, and I was more impressed than I expected. He’s a great runner, of course, but he seems to operate just fine as a passer in that part of the field. They’ve also got Mark Andrews, of course, but I think Jackson and Beckham can be an effective combo around the goal line. (I will say this with more confidence if they can get Jackson signed before July).

Below see the composite passing stats for the last four years. For Jackson, I see 48 touchdown passes and three 2-point conversions in 119 pass plays. That’s 44 percent, 2nd-best among all quarterbacks with at least 80 plays.

PASSING INSIDE THE 10 (last 4 yrs)
PlayerComAttTD2PtPctIntsack
Jared Goff7913254644.1%14
Lamar Jackson6511148344.0%35
Ryan Tannehill7511148343.6%36
Russell Wilson7012449340.9%43
Aaron Rodgers11317569440.8%44
Dak Prescott6210140440.7%17
Tua Tagovailoa468031240.7%11
Carson Wentz66113391140.7%210
Patrick Mahomes12520378740.3%88
Kirk Cousins9217062940.1%37
Joe Burrow499837439.0%37
Josh Allen9216659436.6%46
Daniel Jones549831635.9%35
Jimmy Garoppolo5810536335.8%34
Tom Brady11021675335.1%16
• Baker Mayfield6212643335.1%35
Ben Roethlisberger428526434.9%11
• Matthew Stafford7114048334.0%110
Justin Herbert7814443833.3%29
Matt Ryan6714848232.3%37
Kyler Murray7414642631.8%45
Andy Dalton429024428.9%27
Derek Carr7215544128.5%53
Deshaun Watson438824228.0%15

Ultimately, I’m a little more pro-Beckham than I expect. I think he’ll be Baltimore’s most productive wide receiver – he’s just a better player than Rashod Bateman, as far as I can see. And I think they’ll be passing more this season. I don’t know that I’ll actually be selecting Beckham on many teams, but I’m more open to the possibility than I thought previously.

—Ian Allan

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