Is Time Finally Right For Patriots To Bring In Odell Beckham Jr.?

No, no it's not


Feb 16, 2023

On the surface, now might be a sneaky-good time for the Patriots to finally add Odell Beckham Jr.

Bill Belichick long has coveted the controversial wideout. And the respect is mutual, with Beckham last year admitting he nearly signed with New England after his release from the Cleveland Browns. Moreover, Belichick loves nothing more than a depressed asset, and Beckham’s value on the open market never has been lower.

So, why hasn’t Beckham generated more interest in an offseason once again loaded with speculation about the Patriots potentially adding a star receiver?

Well, there are myriad reasons. But you could make cases for and against the Patriots ignoring those red flags and taking a flier on the 30-year-old Beckham, who still is a free agent.

Here’s why New England should, and shouldn’t, consider adding Beckham to its receiving corps:

The Patriots entered their offseason with significant uncertainty at receiver. Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor both are free agents, and Kendrick Bourne spent a good chunk of the season in the doghouse while hearing trade rumors. Tyquan Thornton showed potential during his rookie campaign but remains unproven, and DeVante Parker’s durability issues mostly came as advertised.

At the very least, Agholor seems like a long shot to return. So, New England likely will be looking to add at least one wideout before next season. It’s also possible that another team overpays for Meyers, forcing the Patriots to replace his team-best production and consistency. That would leave two holes on the wideout depth chart.

Even if New England trades for a star receiver, like Jerry Jeudy, it still would have more than enough money to sign Beckham, who isn’t in a position to fetch a large contract. The enigmatic wideout has endured two ACL tears over the last three years, a reality that scared off potential suitors this season. His bizarre off-field behavior probably didn’t help, either.

It’s impossible to know where Beckham’s head currently is at. He might still believe he deserves to be courted and treated like an elite wide receiver.

But if he’s willing to accept a potentially reduced role on a prove-it contract, the Patriots should explore adding him to the fold. If Beckham flames out, New England could cut bait and move on with little financial risk, provided the contract is structured in a team-friendly way.

Let’s say the Patriots let Agholor walk and re-sign Meyers. A receiving corps of Meyers, Parker, Beckham, Bourne and Thornton would have a low floor, but also a high ceiling. Bill O’Brien and a rejuvenated Mac Jones might be enough to get it over the top.

As for concerns over Beckham’s character, there still is something to be said for the Belichick factor. Yes, the Patriots head coach has lost his fastball, but if anyone can get the best out of Beckham, it probably is Belichick.

Is Beckham worth the headache? Is he even good anymore?

It says a lot that both the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys — two teams with Super Bowl aspirations and needs at receiver — met with Beckham during the season but didn’t make contract offers.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that the Los Angeles Rams feared Beckham’s knee was a “ticking time bomb” after a botched surgery with the Browns. They were right, as Beckham eventually tore the same ACL during Super Bowl LVI.

Then, roughly 10 months removed from surgery, Beckham opted against working out for the Cowboys, a decision Dallas reportedly viewed as a “red flag.” So, there’s a real chance that Beckham’s knees are shot and that his days of being a productive NFL wideout are over.

And then there’s the plane incident from November. Whether Beckham was in the wrong comes down to a he-said-she-said between him and American Airlines flight attendants, but footage from the incident makes Beckham look terrible. Given all the dysfunction that plagued the Patriots in 2022, it might be best for them to avoid adding Beckham’s personality to the mix.

Landing Beckham would be a splashy move for the Patriots, one that, if nothing else, would generate needed buzz and optimism within the fanbase. And it’s entirely possible that such a reclamation projection would work out.

But at the end of the day, New England would be getting a dramatically reduced version of a player who once struck fear into the hearts of opposing defensive backs. And Beckham could turn into a locker room distraction at any moment.

Signing Beckham is a fun idea to think about, but the risk would outweigh the reward.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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