The Green Bay Packers are in the process of rebuilding the WR room. Since trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency to the Kansas City Chiefs, they have signed veteran Sammy Watkins and drafted Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure. And they might not be done.
Beckham might not have had the career observers expected when he entered the NFL. He set the world on fire with three incredible seasons for the New York Giants, but he is still a great talent with high-end potential. In his first three years in the league, Beckham had at least 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. After an injury-plagued year in 2017, he had more than 1,000 yards again in 2018, even though he only played in 12 games.
The Giants traded him to the Cleveland Browns a year later. Even though his relationship with Baker Mayfield was never great, he still had a 1,000-yard season in 2019. Things went south after that. He had two halves of seasons without great performances and some new injuries.
Beckham never will be back to his prime, but he was still an essential piece to the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl run. In eight games during the regular season, Beckham had 305 yards and five touchdowns, which is more than any current Packers receiver had during the same stretch. Allen Lazard has 513 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games as the second-most productive receiver on the team behind Adams.
Beckham still had 288 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs, one of them in the Super Bowl. He was highly impactful, taking the pressure off of Cooper Kupp. For instance, the San Francisco 49ers couldn’t replicate the defensive gameplan they had against the Packers, which focused on stopping Adams, against Kupp because Beckham was able to punish the defense.
If the Packers sign Beckham, he would have the chance to be a truly X-type, dominant receiver – something the Packers’ roster doesn’t have. It would also be his best chance to put up big numbers to finish up the season and go back to the market in 2023 with a real shot to get another big contract.
It all sounds great until we remember Beckham tore his ACL during the Super Bowl on Feb. 13. These injuries generally make players miss around nine to 12 months in football. Beckham would be back in November in the optimistic projection, allowing him to play eight to nine games. However, he could miss even more time. For example, David Bakhtiari missed all of last season, except for a half of the Week 18 game against the Detroit Lions, with a torn ACL.
Losing at least half of the season is terrible in any situation, but it’s specifically hard for the Packers right now. They need immediate contributors after losing three of their five most-productive receivers from last season. The expectation is that the rookies, especially Watson and Doubs, will get along and have more impact as the season goes on. Therefore, Beckham, or any other veteran, would be more important at the start of the season.
Another factor is the roster designation. Beckham is currently injured, so the Packers would immediately put him on the offseason PUP list, and he would count towards the 90-man roster. Then they will gradually reduce the roster before the final cuts in September. When the Packers establish the 53-man roster, Beckham would go to the in-season PUP list, making him ineligible to play for at least six weeks, but he wouldn’t count against the roster limit.
However, the Packers would need to cut a player when Beckham returns. And, if they carry seven receivers (Sammy Watkins, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, and the three rookies), one of them would probably have to go. The problem is, at this point, the veterans with more than four accrued seasons (Watkins and Cobb) have their base salaries guaranteed. Brian Gutekunst would have to cut one of them anyway or decide to let one of the young guys, Amari Rodgers or Samori Toure, go through waivers, hoping to retain them on the practice squad.
The Packers would have to make all of those moves without assurances that Beckham will be in the ideal shape because serious injuries occasionally linger.
We are also not considering the cost here. The Packers wanted Beckham after the Browns released him last season, but they couldn’t offer him much more than the veteran minimum. That’s one of the reasons why he chose the Rams, who offered more bonuses and total money. The story can repeat itself this year because LA may be interested in forming a WR trio of Kupp, Beckham, and Allen Robinson.
The net value
Odell Beckham could be a WR1 during a playoff run, and that’s obviously very attractive. The Packers have had three consecutive 13-win seasons and are expected to reach the playoffs again, even though the wide receiver room has worsened. So, Beckham would come right in time when it matters most.
Conversely, Beckham would lose a big chunk of the season and come back trying to learn the playbook and get acclimated with Aaron Rodgers during essential games. That’s not a recipe for success.
Although Beckham has a track record of high-level play, and acquiring him earlier would have been smart, now it’s not the ideal moment to take that risk. The Packers should bet that the young guys will transition quickly to the pro game, and if it doesn’t trend that way through training camp, the alternative would be signing a player who could contribute right away, such as Julio Jones or Will Fuller.