What could Odell Beckham Jr. bring to Jets if signed?
Over the past few weeks, reports have linked free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Jets.
Initial reports suggested that quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is expected to be traded to the Jets soon, has been a long-time admirer of the 30-year-old. This week, sources told SNY’s Connor Hughes that the Jets’ interest in Beckham is “very real” and various online interactions with some of Gang Green's young players have further fueled speculation.
How would Beckham fit on the 2023 Jets, though? Let’s review what he brings to the table and what his role could be within the Jets’ remodeled wide receiver group.
Several years ago, Beckham was widely considered one of the league’s best receivers, as he was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons. Although he hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl since 2016, he posted thousand-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. However, he’s suffered two ACL tears since then and clearly can’t be expected to be the player he once was.
Beckham didn’t play at all in 2022 after suffering his second ACL tear during the Rams’ Super Bowl win over the Bengals at the end of the 2021 season. However, he reportedly looked to be in good shape at a recent private workout that was attended by multiple teams, including the Jets.
While Beckham’s 2021 regular season was the least productive of his career in terms of yards per game, he was spectacular in the postseason, perhaps showing that he was fully recovered from the first ACL tear and back to his best. In three-and-a-half games, he caught 21 passes for 288 yards and two scores. Unfortunately for him, his dominant postseason was cut short by the second torn ACL.
While Beckham has shown he can overcome this kind of injury before, it would probably be unwise to rely on him for elite-level production and whoever signs him is likely to end up giving him an incentive-laden deal. The Jets are in a position of luxury at the wide receiver position, though, because they have two players -- Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard – who led their teams in receptions and yards in 2021. They would, therefore, be able to introduce Beckham slowly and let him integrate himself into the offense without being under pressure to produce immediately.
Beckham’s all-round skill set should enable him to fulfil whatever role the Jets need him to undertake. In the past, he’s been a proven big-play threat, reliable red-zone option and possession receiver who can move the chains both outside and in the slot. While there were some attitude concerns surrounding Beckham when he was younger, he’s considered to have matured in recent years and the expectation would be that he’d accept any role with a team-first mentality.
Perhaps the most important thing Beckham will provide is to upgrade an already-solid receiver group to one of the deepest in the league and arguably one of the best units Rodgers will have ever played with. Beckham is versatile enough to step up for any of the other receivers if they were to get injured and they should equally be able to cope if he missed any time.
Due to the aspect of uncertainty about how much Beckham may or may not still have in the tank, the potential move is somewhat reminiscent of another former Giants wide receiver the Jets signed back in 2011. That team was coming off a second-consecutive postseason appearance but had limited cap room, so they opted to sign Plaxico Burress fresh off a stint in prison. There are parallels with the Beckham situation because nobody knew quite what to expect from Burress having also missed an entire season.
While the Burress move isn’t remembered as a major success, as the Jets failed the make the postseason, he did lead the Jets with eight touchdown receptions, including three in an exciting win over the Chargers. The difference with a potential move for Beckham would be that they wouldn’t need to be as reliant on their new signing’s production as the 2011 Jets were with the likes of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery departing.
Time will tell whether the Jets ultimately decide to bring Beckham aboard, but if they do it would be another move that signals the team’s intentions to go all-out to establish themselves as a contender in 2023.