Sammy Watkins got $16 million a year from the Kansas City Chiefs in March. Before training camp, the Los Angeles Rams gave Brandin Cooks an extension worth $16.2 million per year. Then on Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings gave Stefon Diggs a nice deal.
Diggs signed a five-year extension worth $72 million, with a max of $81 million according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. It has $40 million in guarantees, Rapoport said.
Watkins, Cooks and Diggs are good players, but they have combined for zero Pro Bowls. That fact probably isn’t lost on New York Giants free-agent-to-be receiver Odell Beckham, whose price tag continues to grow.
What will Beckham’s asking price be?
Beckham’s free agency will be one of the major stories of next offseason. He reportedly wants more than $20 million per season, and with the market shifting, that seems like a bare minimum at the start of negotiations.
Beckham is in the argument as the best receiver in football. The Giants fell apart last season when he went on injured reserve with a broken ankle. Beckham has carried the Giants offense for a few years, though the team hopes that changes with the addition of rookie running back Saquon Barkley. He’s likely going to be the highest-paid receiver in NFL history at some point, it’s just a matter of where the final numbers end up. If Diggs’ deal is worth a max of $81 million with $40 million guaranteed, it would seem a deal of more than $100 million for Beckham with well more than half of that guaranteed is a given.
The massive deals signed by Watkins, Cooks and Diggs don’t help the Giants’ negotiating position. While those three receivers are good, they’re nowhere near Beckham’s class.
Giants seem ready to negotiate
The Giants have often been critical of Beckham, and they seemed to want certain conditions met before negotiating with him this year.
They wanted him to show more maturity after a few more off-field headlines. They also wanted him to show up to training camp, which he did. Last week, Giants co-owner John Mara told the New York Post that the team wants to get a deal done.
“I anticipate we will be speaking with his agents sooner rather than later,’’ Mara told the Post. “I’m not going to give you the exact timetable on that. I think those will start pretty soon, and hopefully we’ll be able to come to an agreement.’’
What can the Giants do?
The Giants have some leverage too, and it’s the franchise tag. If Beckham digs in and asks for way more than the team is willing to pay, the Giants could tag Beckham at least twice and drag the situation out.
Diggs’ deal is the latest benchmark for receivers. Diggs hasn’t topped more than 84 catches or 903 yards in a season. He has 15 touchdowns in 40 career games. Injuries have kept him from posting a 90-catch or 1,000-yard season, and his talent is clear. It’s hard to say Diggs’ contract is an overpay. But the receiver market is inching up just as Beckham’s rookie deal is about to expire.
With the recent receiver deals, and every one to come before Beckham’s extension is signed, the Giants will have to pay even more. The only question is, how much will Beckham end up getting?
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