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Cap expert sees value in Giants signing Odell Beckham ... now

Odell Beckham has been the Giants' most productive player the past three seasons.Getty Images

Last week, the New York Giants cleared $10 million of salary cap space by releasing wide receiver Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings. The moves give the Giants roughly $30 million in cap space, money that they likely will need to sign wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a long-term extension.

The Giants will undoubtedly exercise the option on Beckham for this year, the former first rounder set to enter his fourth year in the league. And with an option for 2018 still existing on his rookie contract, the Giants don’t necessarily need to be in a rush to re-sign one of the top young wide receivers in the league. But perhaps trying to work out a new deal - an extension - right now, might just provide better value for the Giants then waiting a season and trying to work out a deal.

Beckham has led the Giants in receiving all three years he’s been in the NFL.

“I'd think the smart move here would be to pick up his option for 2018 and then open up contract talks after that. That gives a team the most flexibility and generally the best price because you are essentially giving a player a new contract with guarantees now when realistically it is a given that the team controls his rights for at least three more years - his current contract, the 2018 option, and at least one franchise tag,” said Jason Fitzgerald, owner and founder of OverTheCap.com. The website is dedicated to the cap picture of all 32 NFL teams.

There is no denying that Beckham is an elite wide receiver, a real talent and a cash cow for the Giants in terms of merchandising.

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But he comes with a certain level of baggage. He’s become a distraction off the field with his offseason pursuits and on the field has started to act like a liability with a lack of control over his emotions. And right or wrong, he was at the center of the much ballyhooed boat trip some Giants players took before their wild card loss at the Green Bay Packers to end the season.

Still, it might be a good time for the Giants to think about inking him to a long-term deal.

“Whatever negatives are around him, and it seemed pretty clear the Giants were not happy with that boat trip and how public it was, I don’t think that really brings his value down. He is simply too talented. Barring a significant injury he is going to be the highest paid player at the position when he signs. Right now that number is $15 million a year for A.J. Green. There should only be one outside threat at passing that in free agency and that is Alshon Jeffery of the [Chicago] Bears if he becomes a free agent. So you might be able to get a deal done in the $15.5 million-$16.5 million range to get it done,” Fitzgerlad said. “The two worries I have about waiting too long is that Antonio Brown will likely get an extension in July or August that will make him the highest paid and Mike Evans in Tampa could be extended anytime as well. Tampa uses a different contract structure than most other teams which generally leads to inflated contract values. If the Giants wait until both of those players sign, especially Evans, Beckham’s value is just going to rise.

“Better to get it done now rather than cost yourself a few million a year because you wanted to wait.”

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