Sammy Watkins has a better deal than Odell Beckham

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Early in camp, after Odell Beckham surrendered most of his leverage by not holding out, his agent leaked that the Giants had offered Beckham less per year than the $16 million per year Sammy Watkins received from the Chiefs. For many, the immediate reaction was, “How is Sammy Watkins relevant to Odell Beckham?”

The answer was that Beckham’s camp was evaluating the team’s offer not in terms of “new money” (where Steelers receiver Antonio Brown currently has the best deal, at $17 million annually) but by looking at total value. Under that metric, Watkins had set the highest bar at $16 million per year.

Ultimately, Beckham beat both metrics. In new money, it’s $18 million per year. In total value, it’s $16.4 million per year. But although reasonable minds can (and will) differ on this, total value really is the more accurate way to analyze a contract. Rarely if ever do contract extensions represent actual “extensions” to a contract; typically, the old contract gets ripped up and the new contract takes its place.

That’s what happened with Beckham. He has a new six-year, $98.459 million deal, not a one-year, $8.459 million deal with a five-year, $90 million package that begins in 2019.

So, apples to apples, Beckham gets $400,000 more per year on average than Watkins. But Watkins has the better deal.

Here’s why: Beckham has signed for six years, and Watkins is under contract for only three. So after Beckham has reportedly earned $60 million and enters the back nine (three) of his commitment, Watkins will have made $48 million and will be taking another trip to the open market.

Yes, Beckham will have made $60 million over those three years. But he’ll be committed to only $38 million over the final three years, and unless he suddenly becomes willing to hold out (which he wasn’t willing to do this year), the Giants won’t surrender their ability to enjoy three lower-cost seasons after enduring three high-rent campaigns that mesh with the three relatively cheap years under running back Saquon Barkley‘s rookie contract.

And so when Beckham sees Watkins, who has more than 120 fewer catches, nearly 1,400 fewer yards, 13 fewer touchdowns, and three fewer Pro Bowl appearances in the same number of seasons, get another big contract on the open market at the age of 28 while Beckham remains tied to the Giants through his 31st birthday at an average at that point of $12.6 million per year, Beckham will have only himself to blame for neither insisting on a shorter-term deal nor buying insurance against a career-ending injury nor opting to go year-to-year until hitting the open market — and the jackpot that would go along with it — in 2021, when he’ll be 28.

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