Green Bay Packers' pursuit of Odell Beckham Jr. would be for the minimum, but Davante Adams is all for it

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers may have some interest in free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but if they do, they don’t seem interested in investing a lot of money in him.

 According to an NFL source, the Packers have communicated with Beckham’s representatives and let them know that any deal would be for the veteran’s minimum, which based on the receiver’s seven-plus years in the league would be for $1.075 million.

Coach Matt LaFleur said Wednesday morning he couldn’t comment on any interest the Packers might have, but wide receiver Davante Adams, who would stand to feel the addition of a former Pro Bowl receiver more than anyone else, was fully on board with doing what it takes to sign him.

“My hopes are up there pretty high,” Adams said Wednesday. “I’ve been talking to him a little bit, so we’ll see what happens. But like I’ve said previously, I don’t expect anything to happen. But if it does, that’d be great.”

Adams has a right to be skeptical given general manager Brian Gutekunst has done most of his in-season work building up the defense. Both Gutekunst and LaFleur would have to be convinced that Beckham was a good fit for their locker room, and Gutekunst would have to find a financial agreement that wasn’t too hard on the Packers’ salary cap.

The Packers must tread carefully because they only have $4 million of cap room remaining this year and their priority is to sign Adams to a long-term extension. They are so far over the cap next year that they probably would like to use some of this year’s leftover cap on Adams’ deal.

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) is a free agent after clearing waivers on Tuesday.

It remains to be seen what it will take to land Beckham Jr. and whether the Packers were just making a token effort to sign him or plan on raising their bid as necessary. Beckham has already been paid $8.5 million this year and was due to make an additional $7.25 million.

If the Packers had claimed him on waivers, they would have been on the hook for that amount. Now, they can negotiate a new deal, which means they could add voidable years to offset the salary-cap hit this year if they choose.

But the Packers may have a figure they’re not willing to pass and it could be right in the minimum wage area. Or this could be just the beginning of negotiations and they’re willing to pay more if other teams bid higher.

Adams is having an all-pro year and one might think paying another wide receiver before they pay him might cause him to dig in and choose free agency in March over a big signing bonus he would receive now with an extension.

Negotiations between Adams and the Packers have been non-existent since training camp, when the Packers refused to guarantee anything but a signing bonus in a contract extension. The Packers are one of the few remaining teams in the NFL who refuse to guarantee salaries and will only guarantee signing bonuses.

But if Adams has any concern Beckham Jr. might affect his prospects for a new deal, he wasn’t showing it. In fact, he was practically lobbying for Gutekunst to sign Beckham.

“We talked a little bit, but it hasn't been extensive talks,” Adams said of communication with the former Browns receiver. “We definitely have entertained the idea; just trying to see where his mind is. And I don't think he knows right now what the deal is.

“But I’ve been kind of joking throughout the process of him over in Cleveland and stuff, just kind let him know, he got a nice home over here if he's ready for that. And if it could work, but you know, it's a business. So, it's a lot that goes into that.

“It's not as easy as we want him and he wants to be here. So, we'll see what happens."

There have been reports that the Packers are high on Beckham Jr.’s list of teams he would like to join, but speculation around the league has Seattle, New Orleans and Kansas City as possible landing spots also. If Beckham Jr. is most concerned about winning a Super Bowl, any of those teams would be candidates to go that far, but the Packers have the best record at 7-2.

Questions the Packers must answer about Beckham Jr. are how he would handle playing second fiddle to Adams in the offense, whether he’d be OK with rotating with receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard and would he take opportunities away from Adams or help him get more.

Adams had a quick answer to that, tossing in a bit of humor with it.

“Everybody knows what he's still about,” Adams said. “So, I don't think there's a whole lot of doubt as far as what he can do. So, it would be different, I'm sure.

“But I'm pretty secure in what I bring to this offense and this team. And I know what his mindset is based off what he just came from. He'd be happy to deal with whatever, at this point. I mean, he had one catch, like 6 yards in his last game. So, I can guarantee you, we can get him more than that over here. So, as long as he's good with two catches, 12 yards, we should be straight.”

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Beckham Jr. had 17 catches for 232 yards and no touchdowns with the Browns, but it appeared his chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield was off and Beckham Jr.’s father made scathing remarks on social media about Mayfield refusing to throw to his son. The Browns excused him from practice for two days before deciding to part ways.

Beckham Jr. has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times, all while a member of the New York Giants, and became the fastest player in NFL history to reach both 200 career receptions and 4,000 career receiving yards. Over the last two seasons with Cleveland he has just 40 catches and has battled various injuries, including a knee ailment that caused him to miss nine games last year.

The Packers have gotten all they need out of Adams this season (50 catches for 786 yards and three touchdowns), but a hamstring injury to Valdes-Scantling and a season-ending knee injury to tight end Robert Tonyan have weakened their passing game.

Valdes-Scantling returned Sunday after missing five games and caught two passes for 19 yards.

LaFleur said Valdes-Scantling was solid, but he did not put a heavy load on his shoulders. He expected him to be more involved this week against Seattle, and his return could be part of the reason the Packers don’t feel it necessary to sign Beckham Jr.

“The more that he can get out there and practice and play… it was a long time that he had off,” LaFleur said. “Football is such a unique sport in terms of it’s hard to get better when you don’t practice, so I think that’s something for all the guys who are out for a while, it typically takes a second (to get back to 100%).

“But he did everything we asked him to do and I thought he did a great job.”

Lazard caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the 13-7 loss to Kansas City and is a valuable asset to the running game because of his ability to block in the trenches. That is something that Beckham Jr. wouldn’t be able to do.

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