Fans love wide receivers. All types of fans. Patrick Mahomes grew up idolizing Dez Bryant. A.J. Brown lobbied hard for the Titans to get Julio Jones, his favorite player. Almost everyone has an opinion on Antonio Brown, good or bad, and even Tom Brady made it a point to have AB as a teammate for as long as he could.
Of course, millions of fans have kept an eye on Odell Beckham Jr.’s career, from a breakout season at LSU in 2013 alongside Jarvis Landry to becoming one of the top rookies in NFL history when posting 108.8 yards per game with the New York Giants in 2014. OBJ was arguably the most famous non-quarterback or quarterback in the league from 2014-2016 and that almost certainly means that many of today’s young football players—from high school to the league—have idolized OBJ.
He was always a “decent player on a decent team” as OBJ himself put at a junior at LSU in 2011...
I've always been a decent player on a decent team. Ive NEVER been a champion on a championship team, this is all i could ask for #FINISH— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) December 3, 2011
Now he’s a champion on a championship team. It just took him 10 years to complete that mission, shockingly enough.
At the time of that tweet on December 3, 2011, OBJ was coming off of a 204-yard performance in a win over Furman. Six days later, Beckham was held to 42 yards in a 38-17 loss to Alabama, ending his bid to win a national championship in college.
As a true freshman in 2009, the Tigers went 13-1, losing to Alabama 21-0 in the national championship. That was the closest Beckham ever got to a title of any kind, until Sunday with the Los Angeles Rams. The drive to become a champion has been with him in every game since though.
OBJ handing wads of cash to LSU players on the field after the National Championship pic.twitter.com/QVmebrjpPy— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) January 14, 2020
You would think that the Giants got better after adding OBJ in 2014, but their record fell from 7-9 to 6-10 in each of his first two seasons in the league.
Then in 2016, the Giants went 11-5 in the first year under Ben McAdoo and OBJ had 101 catches for 1,367 yards with 10 touchdowns. But they were roundly stomped by the Packers in the playoffs and OBJ was held to 28 yards despite getting 11 targets from Eli Manning.
Beckham missed all but four games the next season and when he returned in 2018, the head coach was Pat Shurmur and Eli Manning was 37. The relationship with New York quickly dissolved and many felt that OBJ would help bring a championship back to Cleveland when he was traded to the Browns in the 2019 offseason.
As noted Clevelandite LeBron James can attest to, that didn’t happen.
LeBron loving that TD from OBJ.— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) February 14, 2022
OBJ’s first season with the Browns paired him up with... Freddie Kitchens as a head coach. Credit Cleveland for taking a chance and going with momentum that honestly a lot of media members helped push for Kitchens in 2019, but he no less represents one of the strangest hires in football over the last decade. The Browns had people picking them to go to the Super Bowl in 2019, instead they went 6-10 and Kitchens was fired.
When OBJ returned in 2020, he was now working for Kevin Stefanski—his fifth different head coach in the last six years.
Beckham missed nine of 16 games in 2020 and fans grew impatient. Maybe even more so since the Browns went 11-5 and made the playoffs on the strength of Cleveland’s rushing attack. The Browns beat the Steelers 48-37 in the wild card round but lost 22-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round and OBJ missed the postseason entirely.
Still, the team could have traded Beckham in the 2021 offseason and chose to instead see if they could win a championship with him. Despite a groundswell of support for Cleveland and a 3-1 start to the season, the Browns lost three of their next four games and after failing to find a trade partner, granted OBJ his release on November 9.
OBJ had a very tough decision to make because he knew he wasn’t signing because of money. Not in the immediate at least. He was signing to win a championship and to be a part of a championship offense so that he could enter 2022 free agency on a high note and to cement his legacy as one of the greatest.
At the time, the LA Rams were not necessarily the most obvious choice. They had to compete in the NFC West. They had to get through an NFC gauntlet of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and Dak Prescott. They also had Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods soaking up most of the targets at the time, not knowing that Woods would go down days after he signed. Would OBJ be able to be a huge piece of the puzzle for the Rams?
no dawg . come on obj— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) February 14, 2022
Playing alongside one of the greatest seasons by a wide receiver in football history, Odell Beckham Jr proved that he can play at a high level even when he’s not the number one. The Rams would not be Super Bowl champions right now without Odell Beckham Jr and his injury in the game nearly cost L.A. their opportunity to close out the season with a win at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams managed to finish without OBJ only because they started the game with OBJ.
Now he becomes a very popular free agent and unlike the middle of the season, many handfuls of GMs and many dozens of players will be making their pitch to the 29-year-old receiver to now come help them to win a Super Bowl.
Will he re-sign with the Rams?
Les Snead has never been shy with handing out big contracts, especially to wide receivers. Kupp is locked in for next season at an $18.6 million cap hit, while Robert Woods has a $15.7 million cap hit. Snead also extended Brandin Cooks to a huge deal prior to trading him and taking on a massive dead money cap hit in 2020. If the Rams feel forced to release Woods for any reason, that could carry a savings between $3.6 million and $10 million.
Last year, Kenny Golladay signed a contract that pays him $18 million per season with OBJ’s old team, the Giants. OBJ is only one year older than Golladay. Will he be able to secure a deal that pays him $20 million per season, coming off of a stellar postseason performance and a Super Bowl championship?
Would the Rams be able to afford two or three receivers at cap hits of that magnitude? If OBJ’s knee injury is a torn ACL, how much does that change his offseason? How many teams will inquire about his services now?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. I just know that Odell Beckham Jr is now a Super Bowl champion.