After Odell Beckham Jr. answered a slew of questions Friday about what turned out to be a season-ending quad injury — and vowing to return in 2019 with the “best year of my entire career” — the subject typically turned to Eli Manning’s future with the Giants.
Beckham has offered a few cryptic quotes and lukewarm endorsements regarding the team’s longtime quarterback throughout this season, and he attempted to dismiss any such decisions Friday as “above my pay grade.”
Still, the Giants committed up to $95 million to their star receiver before this season started, and it clearly would be best for all involved for Beckham to be on board with Manning returning for a 16th season with Big Blue.
A more diplomatic Beckham indicated after practice, in what amounted to his 2018 exit interview with the media, that he hopes to help send off Manning with a third Super Bowl ring.
“I love Eli,” Beckham said after it was announced he will miss a fourth straight game Sunday against Dallas. “I’ve been with Eli, he was the first quarterback I ever had in the league. I threw with him at the Manning camp, in high school. There’s a lot of things you want in life. You can’t always get what you want.
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“But at the end of the day, I want him to be able to go home and talk trash to his brothers. I want him to go out, when it’s time to go out, I want him to go out the right way, I want him to go out with a trophy, so he can go home and, not rub it in their face, but that he’s got three rings and [Peyton’s] got two, or whatever it is. That’s what I want for him, that’s how I want him to finish. But it has nothing to do with me, it’s not my call, I’m just a receiver. So that’s above my pay grade.”
Of course, that didn’t stop Beckham from openly calling out Manning and coach Pat Shurmur’s play-calling during the infamous ESPN interview that got him fined by the organization in October.
Manning remains under contract for 2019 at a salary-cap charge of $23.2 million, or the Giants could release him or work out a pay cut or contract extension that reduces that cap hit.
Beckham only has played a full 16-game slate once in his first five NFL seasons and played just four one year ago because of ankle surgery. But he vowed to return stronger than ever in 2019 after finishing this season with 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 appearances.
“You train all offseason for these 16 games, plus a chance to go to the playoffs. It’s definitely not the way I want to end the season,” said Beckham, who originally was injured Nov. 25 against Philadelphia. “I’m disappointed in myself, my teammates, everybody, just the whole community. It’s not the way I wanted to end it.
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“On a positive note, it leaves a huge chip on my shoulder for next year, just the things that I know I’m capable of doing. It’s just time to do them, and put my best foot forward next year. I think next year will be the best year I’ve had in my entire career. That’s the only positive that I can take from all of it.”
The Giants (5-10) only have been to the playoffs once during Beckham’s career, but he also insisted he’s “not really” thinking about running out of time to accomplish his team and personal goals.
“It’s not something you really look at. You just kind of stay in the moment,” Beckham said. “Obviously you think about the end. I’m trying to play to surpass Jerry [Rice’s records]. That’s the goal. However long it takes, I feel like I’m capable of doing it.
“The sky’s the limit … and I know next year’s going to be tough on everybody I play. That’s just how I feel, that’s how I’m coming. I do have a positive outlook for 2019, for 2020. I say it’s gonna be my year every year, until it is gonna be my year.”