NFL News & Analysis

NFL Rumor Roundup: Examining Odell Beckham Jr.'s best free-agent landing spots

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of the jersey of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL trade deadline is over and the 2022 season is halfway through. We all know what that means.

That's right, we’ve officially reached the stage of the NFL calendar when all attention turns toward free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

It happened last season, too, when the Cleveland Browns waived Beckham after the trade deadline. He passed through waivers and eventually joined the Los Angeles Rams, with whom he earned a 76.5 receiving grade and caught 48 passes for 593 yards with seven touchdowns in 12 games before tearing his ACL in Super Bowl LVI.

FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Sunday that Beckham will be fully cleared by the end of the week. Beckham said in an interview with Complex Sports, “Whether it’s Buffalo, Green Bay calling, the Cowboys, reunion with the Giants, I want to be able to spill … these next three or four years into something where I can buy a home. I can call this place home. I’m tired of living out of suitcases. I’ve done the rock and roll life.”

So, Beckham seemingly wants a long-term deal. Multiple sources said they expect Beckham to sign where he believes he’ll win. One source told PFF that many of the NFL’s top contenders are “circling around” Beckham as he recovers from the knee injury.

We polled sources around the NFL to examine his best fits around the league.


DALLAS COWBOYS

  • Record: 6-2
  • EPA/passing play: 21st
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 13th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 20th
Cowboys Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
CeeDee Lamb 77.3 14th
Noah Brown 69.0 T-45th
Michael Gallup 63.7 T-64th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The Cowboys were the most popular pick among sources, and they’ve made their interest in Beckham known public.

Owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday, “Odell is someone that we have all the appreciation in the world for what he is as a competitor. I know the Cowboys star on that helmet when he puts it on could look pretty good.”

And head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday, “I’ve always been a huge fan of his. …I’ve just heard so many excellent, excellent things about him.”

The Cowboys absolutely could use a third starting-caliber wide receiver in their offense to join CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, though Noah Brown has been solid as a starter, catching 25 passes for 339 yards with one touchdown.

The Cowboys weathered the storm well with quarterback Dak Prescott out and are now coming off the bye week with tough games against the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. They play in the toughest division in the NFC with the Giants also at 6-2 and the Philadelphia Eagles as the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team.

That could motivate the Cowboys to go all-in with Beckham. With $10.5 million in cap space heading into next season, Dallas is not necessarily the best team to offer Beckham a long-term contract. Lamb is still on a rookie contract, however, and Gallup signed a five-year deal worth $57.5 million this offseason. Only his 2022 and 2023 salaries are fully guaranteed.

The Cowboys rank second in expected points added per passing play since Prescott returned from a hand injury.


BUFFALO BILLS

  • Record: 6-2
  • EPA/passing play: 1st
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 2nd
  • Cap space entering 2023: 26th
Bills Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Stefon Diggs 91.1 2nd
Gabe Davis 64.9 59th
Isaiah McKenzie 63.4 67th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The Bills were the second-most popular pick for Beckham’s next destination among sources, picking up just over 31% of the vote. Dallas and Buffalo are the clear favorites for OBJ among league circles.

Bills edge defender Von Miller and cornerback Tre’Davious White have been putting on the full-court press to get Beckham in Buffalo. 

The Bills could use him, despite having the second-highest-graded wide receiver corps. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is accounting for over 35% of Buffalo’s passing yardage, and while Gabe Davis has been a dominant force at times, 37.9% of his total receiving yards this season came in one game. Over the course of seven games, Davis has topped 40 yards only three times. Other receiving options, including tight end Dawson Knox and wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Khalil Shakir, have all been limited to under 200 yards this season.

Quarterback Josh Allen’s elbow injury suffered Sunday also could complicate matters, depending on the severity of the ailment.

Signing Beckham to a long-term contract wouldn’t be simple for Buffalo, which currently has -$4.26 million in salary cap space entering next season.


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

  • Record: 4-4
  • EPA/passing play: 6th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 8th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 19th
49ers Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Brandon Aiyuk 81.7 7th
Jauan Jennings 66.7 52nd
Deebo Samuel 66.4 54th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The 49ers received only one vote, but among contending teams, they’ve shown a willingness to go all-in already this season by trading for Christian McCaffrey, and they absolutely could use a third starting option at wide receiver behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

That being said, it would create a crowded group of pass catchers with McCaffrey and tight end George Kittle in the mix, as well.

The 49ers are set to have $14.5 million in salary cap space entering the 2023 season, so signing Beckham to a long-term contract would be doable but could eat up available funds.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS

  • Record: 7-1
  • EPA/passing play: 18th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 7th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 28th
Vikings Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Justin Jefferson 82.7 6th
Adam Thielen 69.0 45th
K.J. Osborn 57.9 87th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The 7-1 Vikings also somewhat surprisingly received one vote. They just traded for tight end T.J. Hockenson but could use more pass-catching insurance and another playmaker in their offense to make a push before the postseason.

Wide receiver Justin Jefferson, like Beckham, is an LSU product and is currently accounting for 42.7% of Minnesota’s passing yards. Beckham would present a clear upgrade over K.J. Osborn next to Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

The Vikings have found success this season through a conservative passing approach with Kirk Cousins at quarterback this season.

They have -$4.9 million in cap space entering the 2023 season, and they’ll need to pay Jefferson and Hockenson soon.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • Record: 6-3
  • EPA/passing play: 10th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 20th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 8th
Ravens Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Devin Duvernay 74.0 25th
Rashod Bateman (IR) 61.6 76th
Demarcus Robinson 61.4 77th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The 6-3 Ravens continued their winning ways on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints despite wide receiver Rashod Bateman being out for the season and tight end Mark Andrews being inactive. They received one vote from sources around the NFL.

Among the teams listed in this article, the Ravens absolutely could use Beckham the most after Bateman’s injury.

Getting Andrews back will help quarterback Lamar Jackson, and rookie tight end Isaiah Likely has emerged to help the overall pass-catching corps. But Jackson’s top wide receivers moving forward are Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson, James Proche, Tylan Wallace and DeSean Jackson, who made it through 11 snaps before leaving Week 9 with a hamstring injury.

Beckham would immediately become Jackson’s best wide receiver. One question is whether the Ravens pass the ball enough to justify the move.

Baltimore is set to have over $47 million in salary cap space entering the 2023 season, though that doesn’t account for Jackson’s seemingly inevitable franchise tag.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

  • Record: 3-6
  • EPA/passing play: 26th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 27th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 23rd
Packers Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Randall Cobb (IR) 79.9 10th
Allen Lazard 68.3 48th
Romeo Doubs 60.6 T-80th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The Packers also received one vote, though at 3-6 on the season, they aren’t exactly a “contender.” With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, they could quickly become one, especially with Beckham helping the wide receiver corps.

The Packers reportedly attempted to make a move at wide receiver before the trade deadline. They have since lost one more game, however. They also were in on Beckham last season.

The Packers’ passing attack has labored this season, though it certainly hasn’t helped that Allen Lazard, Christian Watson, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins have all been injured. Romeo Doubs now is also expected to miss time with a high ankle sprain.

If the Packers believe there’s any chance to win this season, they pretty desperately need a player like Beckham.

They’re set to have $3.6 million in salary cap space entering next season, however, and it could be difficult to convince Beckham to sign a long-term deal since Rodgers hasn’t even committed to playing in 2023. Would signing Beckham convince Rodgers to continue his career? It’s certainly possible, but he seemingly has better suitors in the teams listed above and below.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

  • Record: 5-4
  • EPA/passing play: 5th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 6th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 6th
Bengals Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Ja'Marr Chase 78.9 11th
Tee Higgins 75.4 18th
Tyler Boyd 75.2 19th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The Bengals were a late addition voted on by a player personnel director as a “sleeper … depending on the severity of (Ja'Marr) Chase‘s injury.” We didn't include another “sleeper” voted on in this piece because it seemed a little too far-fetched, but this player personnel director was actually the second source to float Cincinnati as a potential landing spot for Beckham in the past two weeks.

The Bengals have one of the best wide receiver corps in the NFL with Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, but Chase is currently dealing with a hip injury. Head coach Zac Taylor declined to give an update on Chase before Cincinnati's Week 10 bye, but the standout wide receiver is not on injured reserve.

It's worth noting that Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow, like Beckham, went to LSU. Chase, Higgins and Boyd are all under contract in 2023, but the latter two will be free agents in 2024.


NEW YORK GIANTS

  • Record: 6-2
  • EPA/passing play: 9th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 32nd
  • Cap space entering 2023: 4th
Giants Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Darius Slayton 71.9 31st
Richie James Jr. 63.3 T-69th
Sterling Shepard (IR) 58.5 T-88th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

That does it for teams who actually received votes from sources, but Giants general manager Joe Schoen publicly admitted to being in contact with Beckham’s agents.

Beckham would immediately transform the Giants’ offense and make their passing attack more dangerous as an upgrade over the team's top targeted wide receivers Richie James Jr., Darius Slayton, David Sills, Wan’Dale Robinson, Marcus Johnson and Kenny Golladay.

The Giants have limited salary cap space this season but are set to have $59 million this offseason heading into 2023.


LOS ANGELES RAMS

  • Record: 3-5
  • EPA/passing play: 24th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 9th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 22nd
Rams Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Cooper Kupp 88.3 4th
Allen Robinson II 63.6 67th
Ben Skowronek 55.4 93rd

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

According to Beckham on Twitter, the Rams gave the wideout “lowest of low offers” as a free agent.

Beckham was great for Los Angeles last season, and they’ve struggled to move the ball on offense this season, though that’s mostly due to significant injuries and struggles on their offensive line.

The Rams could be looked at as a nice long-term destination for Beckham, but they don’t currently appear to be a Super Bowl contender this season.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

  • Record: 6-2
  • EPA/passing play: 2nd
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 14th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 12th
Chiefs Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
JuJu Smith-Schuster 71.7 T-33rd
Mecole Hardman 67.9 51st
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 64.1 62nd

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The Chiefs appeared like potential front-runners for Beckham before trading for Kadarius Toney. It would be surprising if Beckham landed in Kansas City, but not necessarily out of the realm of possibility since he could contribute for them in 2023 and beyond.

The Chiefs’ wide receiver room is crowded with Toney, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson.

They have cap space this offseason, however, and Smith-Schuster, Hardman and Watson are all entering free agency after the campaign.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

  • Record: 5-3
  • EPA/passing play: 13th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 23rd
  • Cap space entering 2023: 29th
Chargers Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Mike Williams 71.7 T-33rd
Josh Palmer 63.1 71st
DeAndre Carter 61.9 75th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

It’s actually remarkable that the Chargers are 5-3 this season with cornerback JC Jackson, left tackle Rashawn Slater and now defensive tackle Austin Johnson out for the season. Edge defender Joey Bosa is also on injured reserve.

Injuries to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have further hampered the Chargers’ offense.

The Chargers are in a tough salary-cap situation to offer Beckham something long-term.


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

  • Record: 4-5
  • EPA/passing play: 14th
  • Wide receiver corps grade: 25th
  • Cap space entering 2023: 31st
Buccaneers Top WRs Through Week 9
Player Grade Rank*
Mike Evans 71.0 39th
Chris Godwin 70.3 42nd
Russell Gage 59.7 85th

*Among 96 WRs with 20 or more targets through Week 9

The Buccaneers have not been shy about adding wide receiver talent over the past eight months, though Russell Gage, Julio Jones and Cole Beasley haven't exactly paid major dividends so far.

The Buccaneers beat the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9 and are still favorites to win the NFC South. With Tom Brady at quarterback, Tampa Bay should still be considered Super Bowl contenders, as well.

That being said, the Buccaneers have -$41 million in salary cap space heading into 2023, and Brady is a free agent. Beckham might be interested in joining the Bucs for a short spell, but anything long-term seems risky and likely unfeasible.

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