In the early portion of his career, Odell Beckham Jr. was rewriting the history books with the New York Giants. Four years and three teams later, Beckham is at a career crossroads and currently powerless to do anything about it.
Beckham remains an unsigned free agent and likely will be for some time after tearing his left ACL twice in two years. What makes Beckham’s current status different than most players coming back from injury is the timing of when it happened and his contract situation.
When Beckham tore his ACL in late October 2020, it took him 11 months to return. He didn’t make it back on the field until late September 2021. He missed training camp, preseason, and the first two regular season games, which wasn’t unusual. The timetable for coming back from a torn ACL is historically nine to 12 months, depending on the severity. The earlier in a season an injury occurs, the better the chance to be ready for the start of the following year.
That is what makes the Beckham’s second ACL tear so daunting. It didn’t happen in October or November. It happened Feb. 13, 2022, in Super Bowl LVI. Beckham has recently claimed he played the second half of the 2021 season with the torn ACL, but it wasn’t diagnosed until it tore for good on the biggest stage of them all.
There are two components to Beckham’s recovery that are problematic: The first is the ability of his knee to recover from a second tear in less than 17 months. That’s a lot to ask of a young player, much less a player who turns 30 in November. The healing process slows with time, and there can’t be any setbacks to his progress in rehabilitating the injury, because he’s already likely looking at midseason at a minimum before a potential return.
Second, and perhaps worse, is that Beckham is a free agent. Effectively run out of town in both New York and Cleveland, the Los Angeles Rams signed Beckham for the remainder of 2021 as a mercenary for hire. He isn’t rehabbing at a team facility with its in-house medical personnel. He’s on his own, which creates its own set of issues in trying to get a new contract, but OBJ at least knows what it takes to rehab this specific injury.
Any team willing to pay Beckham before the start of the season will be making an investment on a player who will miss the first half at a minimum. Given how tight salary cap dollars are, especially for established teams with highly paid quarterbacks, there won’t be a robust market to sign Beckham among legitimate contenders unless he’s willing to sign another team-friendly deal like he did with the Rams last year.
Fantasy football outlook
If Beckham wants to have a career that lasts another four or five years, the best advice he can be given is to spend 2022 rehabbing and sign a deal with a team for 2023 when he’s fully healthy. Any team that signs him during this season will be doing so simply to have a part-time guy – and will likely pay accordingly. His best landing spot at this point is to re-sign with the Rams and not rush back. Don’t be shocked if you don’t see OBJ at all this season.
Should he ink with a team prior to the heart of fantasy football draft season, Beckham can be left to the wire in all but the deepest of leagues or those with multiple IR spots. He very well may flash a time or two in 2022, if given the opportunity, it will require a roster spot being absorbed for most of the fantasy campaign. That’s too much risk and not enough return on a draft-day investment.