New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham decided to not hold out in July. He missed some OTAs, but came to training camp. He didn’t stay away for a new contract, like Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell attempted.
“Le’Veon is in a different situation,” Beckham said at the beginning of camp. “He’s been doing this. He’s a running back. Their career expectancy is a little shorter due to stats and all that.”
Running backs do have shorter careers, on average, but all NFL players are one hit away from everything changing. After Sunday, Beckham might regret not pushing harder for that new deal.
Beckham suffered a terrible injury against the Los Angeles Chargers when cornerback Casey Hayward landed on Beckham’s foot and it bent in a bad direction. Beckham fractured his ankle, the Giants announced. Other reports said he’ll have an MRI to see if there’s further damage. Decisions on whether he’ll have surgery haven’t been made.
The best-case scenario is that it was a break that heals quickly and cleanly. Even if we assume he’s out for the season – and let’s be clear, even if there is a medical timetable that would allow Beckham to return late this season, Beckham would be wise to not rush back this season given his contract situation for a hopeless team – then the hope is there are no recurring issues and Beckham next preseason looks like Beckham.
The problem is there’s no guarantee. Plenty of players have returned from horrific injuries and looked like nothing ever happened, but not all do. One of Beckham’s strengths is his incredible quickness and speed. He’s one of the best players in the NFL. Maybe if he loses something, he’s not quite at that level anymore. Again, hopefully that’s not the case. But it will be a concern until he plays again.
It also makes his plight to get a new contract tougher. The Giants picked up his fifth-year option, which bumps his salary from a shockingly low $1.84 million to $8.46 million next season. He’s still underpaid, given how good he is. Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green all make between $15-17 million per season, and that’s where Beckham should be. But now he’ll be coming off a major injury.
Next offseason will be interesting. Given the fifth-year option and the franchise tag, Beckham might not be able to hit free agency until 2021 if the Giants use the tag twice like the Washington Redskins have with Kirk Cousins. If nothing else, the Giants could watch next year and see how Beckham looks after the injury before making a contract decision, if they wish to wait. It would be hard for them to make Beckham the highest-paid receiver in football, which he should command, without seeing him play after the injury.
We know this too: The Giants’ season is beyond done. They’re 0-5. They have a miserable offense and not only did they lose their only legitimate playmaker, they lost three other receivers to injuries on Sunday. The odds are stacked against the Giants being anywhere near relevant the rest of the season even if they had Beckham. Without him, it’s going to be ugly. It’s a concerning injury in the long term and absolutely devastating in the short term.
Considering 2017 is a lost cause, now the attention turns to Beckham and what comes next. Hopefully he’ll get as positive of a diagnosis as is possible at this point, and he heals completely. But we just don’t know, and we’ll enter a nervous period for one of the NFL’s brightest stars.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 5 of NFL action:
Cam Newton: It was a weird week for Newton. He didn’t come off well with his comments to a female reporter in the middle of the week. His apology seemed sincere, though him passing off the original remarks as sarcasm on Sunday seemed strange.
“Lesson learned for me … my sarcasm trying to give someone a compliment turned in ways I never would have imaged,” Newton said, according to Tiffany Blackmon of NFL Network.
On the field, Newton has had an up-and-down season too. But after his second straight fantastic performance, it looks like he has turned a corner.
For the second straight week, the Carolina Panthers went on the road and beat a pretty good team. Last week it was the New England Patriots. On Sunday it was the Detroit Lions. Newton was great for a second straight week. Newton was 26 of 33 for 355 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 27-24 win. He didn’t have his best receiver, tight end Greg Olsen, so he just hit tight end Ed Dickson for 175 yards.
Newton got off to a slow start this season. It was hard to tell if there was a physical issue after his offseason shoulder surgery, or just rust. Luckily for the Panthers, they went 2-1 as Newton worked through it. It looks now like Newton was just rusty after barely playing in preseason. The last two weeks, he looked like he did his MVP season. And the Panthers are 4-1.
T.Y. Hilton: We’ve seen receivers go into hiding when their quarterback gets hurt. Hilton is doing everything he can to keep the Indianapolis Colts afloat until Andrew Luck returns.
Hilton had seven catches for 177 yards in an overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. In the Colts’ win over the Browns two weeks ago, he had seven catches for 153 yards. Hilton is third in the NFL in receiving yards, behind Antonio Brown and A.J. Green, and that’s with Jacoby Brissett and not Luck at quarterback.
Brissett has been a nice find for the Colts – I’m still amazed the New England Patriots traded him with Jimmy Garoppolo set to become a free agent – and it helps to have a No. 1 receiver like Hilton who can make huge plays. The Colts are 2-3, which isn’t great but it’s only a game out of first place in the AFC South. Luck, who returned to practice on a very limited basis this week, might have something to return to when he’s ready. If so, he can thank Hilton.
The dominant (every other week) Jaguars defense: The headlines from Sunday’s game will be that Ben Roethlisberger played so poorly on Sunday he wondered to the media afterward if he still had it. But the Jaguars defense has shown it can make teams look really bad.
In Weeks 1, 3 and 5 the Jaguars have looked like one of the best defenses we’ve seen in years. They destroyed the Texans, Ravens and then the Steelers. I have no idea what happened in Weeks 2 and 4 when they looked average, but let’s just say that when the Jaguars defense is good, it’s really, really good.
Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, and while he made a ton of bad decisions en route to that career-worst performance, the Jaguars deserve credit. This is a defense with great talent on all three levels, and clearly has the ability to force the issue and make plays. Jacksonville returned two interceptions for touchdowns on Sunday. After the win the Jaguars were in first place of the AFC South with a 3-2 record. They had three wins all of last season. The last time they won more than five games in a season was 2010.
Things seem to be changing in Jacksonville, thanks to the defense … which looks great every other week, at least.
The Philadelphia Eagles and their grip on first place in the NFC East: The Eagles are good. They look like the best team in the NFC East. We tried telling you.
The Eagles are 4-1 after a dominant 34-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals (who look like one of the worst teams in football). The game was over after the first quarter, when the Eagles led 21-0.
The Eagles are playing great football, and Carson Wentz is the biggest reason. He looks fantastic, and threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday. Had the Cardinals been more competitive, Wentz would have put up even bigger numbers. Wentz has 1,362 yards, 10 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 97.7 passer rating after five games. The hot start when he was a rookie last season was no fluke.
Even better for the Eagles, the Cowboys are 2-3. Dallas doesn’t look like the same team as last season, especially after back-to-back home losses. There’s not much you can do about losing in the final minute to Aaron Rodgers, the most dominant quarterback on the planet, but they’re still two games behind an Eagles team that just looks better. There’s a long way to go, but Philadelphia fans should feel really good about where they’re at right now.
Cooper Kupp: Kupp has been an impressive rookie receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, and he’s known for his great hands. That’s what made the end of Sunday’s loss so tough.
Kupp had the game-winning touchdown pass hit his hands, and he dropped it. For a while it looked like Jared Goff was going to lead a dramatic final-minute win over the Seattle Seahawks. That would have legitimized the Rams’ fast start. They didn’t have a good day on offense against a tough Seahawks defense, but Kupp made a great move to get open and Goff found him in the end zone. And Kupp couldn’t haul it in.
A close loss doesn’t mean the Rams aren’t for real, but Sunday was a missed opportunity. And it also showed the Seahawks still have a lot of fight left. With one catch at the end, the Rams would be the story of the NFL right now. That one will sting for a while.
Jay Cutler: Cutler will probably keep his job for another week, because the Miami Dolphins won and coaches stubbornly don’t want to change anything when a team wins. But it’s clear the Cutler experiment isn’t going well.
Cutler struggled again, and was lucky that the Tennessee Titans were punchless with Matt Cassel at quarterback. Miami won 16-10, but Cutler was just 12 of 26 for 92 yards.
The home crowd started chanting “We want Moore!” during the game, calling for backup Matt Moore.
“I’ll make the decision on the quarterback. We’re not going to take a public poll,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said about the chants, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
Again, the Dolphins won on Sunday. You might not know it based on the Cutler story lines coming out of the game.
Cutler had a solid Dolphins debut in a win against the Chargers, and hasn’t played well since. He has never been a great quarterback, but was at least competent. It seems like he is going to have a tough time turning it around this season, too. We’ll see if Gase considers a change. It seems like the home fans would be in favor of it.
Oakland Raiders and the hole they’ve dug: The good news is that Derek Carr seems to be trending toward playing next week. Jack Del Rio said “Yeah, I have that feel,” when asked if he felt that Carr could play next week (h/t to Paul Gutierrez at ESPN).
The bad news is the Raiders are 2-3, and their hopes of digging out of that hole will rest on a quarterback who is playing through a broken transverse process in his back. Last season the Raiders were 12-3 last season when Carr broke his leg. They’ve already matched that loss total after falling flat 30-17 to a Baltimore Ravens team that hadn’t looked very good the past couple weeks.
You’d like to think the Raiders defense would have rallied Sunday with Carr out, but it didn’t. A bad Ravens offense scored 23 points, and seven points came on a defensive touchdown. Baltimore had 365 yards. You’d also like to think Oakland’s offensive line and Marshawn Lynch would have stepped up. Lynch had 43 yards on 12 carries, with no gain longer than 9 yards, and he doesn’t look anything like the same back we saw in Seattle.
Oakland will be better when Carr returns, we all know that. They won’t win much without him, though. If Carr does return for the Raiders’ next game, it’s not too late for them to rebound and make the playoffs again, even in a really tough division. But after a season that was a dream until Carr got hurt, there’s a lot more adversity this time around.
The Browns’ chances of getting a win this season: Cleveland is 0-5 after losing to the New York Jets, a game the Browns absolutely should have won. They gave it away through some bad turnovers. Benching rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer couldn’t save a win.
And now the Browns are going to face 0-16 questions.
It’s really early to wonder if a team can lose 11 more in a row, but this is a team that just lost to the Jets at home. There’s no great opportunity for a win left on the schedule:
Maybe they’ll have a chance against the Titans if Marcus Mariota is still out. They have a game left against the 1-4 Chargers, but that’s on the road and the Chargers are light years better than the Browns. Cleveland is the worst team in football and it’s not a close second.
Hue Jackson is now 1-20 in his first 21 games as Browns head coach. Last season, the Browns went winless deep into December before catching a banged-up Chargers team on a cold day and getting a victory when the Chargers missed a field goal at the end. That’s how close they were to going 0-16 last season. Based on how bad the Browns have played this season, and the upcoming schedule, it’s fair to start wondering now if 0-16 might happen.
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