EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t satisfied being the NFL’s highest-paid receiver.
The three-time Pro Bowler for the New York Giants wants much more than the $95 million deal the team agreed to pay him Monday. The 25-year-old wants to be one of the best to play in the NFL.
“Like I said, before I was even in the NFL, I wanted to be legendary,” Beckham said Tuesday. “Yeah, the money is great, you can take care of your family, you can take care of kids one day that you’ll possibly have. But my goal was always to be in the Hall of Fame, to win trophies, to be able to leave a legacy that will be remembered way past any money that you make.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Beckham said the broken left ankle that sidelined him most of last season might have been the best thing to ever happen to him. It forced him to struggle to get back on the field and helped him mature after many slipups off the field.
That new-found maturity and his willingness to work while his contract issues were being settled went a long way in convincing co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch to open up the vault for Beckham.
“I think he’s matured quite a bit,” Mara said after practice. “I think that stuff hopefully is in the past. I think he’s ready to go on and be the type of player and citizen that we expect him to be, and I think he will be.”
Beckham, who was in the final year of his rookie contract, never doubted a new deal would be done before the start of the season.
Mara also said reports that the Giants were listening to trade offers for Beckham in the offseason were blown out of proportion. He said it would have been irresponsible not to listen.
“There was always an intention that he’d be a part of this team,” Mara said.
The major concern was his ankle. The owners wanted to make sure he was fully recovered from the Oct. 8 injury that limited him to four games.
After watching him practice against the Detroit Lions in mid-August, Mara knew the 2014 first-round pick was ready and a deal had to be reached before the start of the season on Sept. 9 at home against Jacksonville.
“It’s not like it’s going to change the way that I want to play and the way that I want to perform,” Beckham said of the contract which includes a $20 million signing bonus and $65 million in guaranteed money.
Beckham said he stayed away from the negotiations, letting his agent Zeke Sandu and the Giants’ hierarchy handle the talks.
“It just was a matter of when,” he said. “I knew that I was already taken care of before this happened, and like I said, I was just happy that it happened.”
What Beckham has done in his first four seasons is remarkable. He has 313 catches for 4,424 yards and 38 touchdowns in 47 games. He is already tied for second among all-time Giants’ receivers with three 1,000-yard seasons.
“You kind of dream about this moment all your life,” Beckham said. “In fact, you’ve dedicated everything, you sacrifice weekends, your parents have sacrificed weekend after weekend traveling, doing this and that just to be able to get to this point, so it is a relief. It’s a wonderful opportunity for myself and my family.”
There were many who worried about Beckham because of his off-the-field problems. After the Giants made the playoffs in 2016, Beckham went to Florida with a number of fellow receivers and took a boat trip.
It did not go over well and it hurt Beckham when he played poorly against the Packers.
His reputation took another hit when a video was posted with him in a room where a hand-rolled cigarette was visible.
Beckham is not proud of those things.
“It wasn’t the best thing to happen to me to date, but what I got to learn and take and grow from, was everything that I needed in my life and now I’m able to take that and keep going forward and just be the best me that I can be,” he said.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur has been cautious with Beckham in the preseason. He has not played in any of the three games, and it is unlikely he will see action in the finale at home against New England on Thursday.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be ready to go against Jacksonville,” Shurmur added.