EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. says his decision to skip voluntary workouts had nothing to do with his contract. The New York Giants star receiver simply wanted to train on his own, reflect on life and take time to “grow and mature.”
The three-time Pro Bowl receiver joined teammates Tuesday for the start of a mandatory three-day minicamp. He saw limited action in the 1-hour, 40-minute workout and dropped one deep ball.
From the time he hit the field, it seemed his every move was studied by reporters, photographers and video crews. He was relaxed after practice and hedged several times when asked about his contract.
Beckham is one of the NFL’s top receivers and he will earn $1.8 million in this his fourth season, much less than some receivers who are far less productive. The Giants picked up the option on his fifth year for $8.4 million in 2018.
“I have seen a holdout and all that stuff and I have really never seen it work, so that was never in my mind to: ‘I’m not going to go to OTAs to get a new contract,'” Beckham said. “I don’t really think that proves a point in my opinion.
“So I was out there (on the West Coast) really taking the time for myself to reflect on life and values and what’s really, really important,” he said. “Like I said to grow and mature.”
General manager Jerry Reese questioned Beckham’s maturity after the Giants (11-6) lost 38-13 in Green Bay in an NFC wild-card game.
There was good reason for that. Beckham took an ill-advised one-day vacation to Florida in the week leading to the Giants’ first playoff game since 2011. He played poorly in the and afterward punched a hole in a wall near the locker room.
The warning from Reese led many to believe Beckham would toe the line this season. But his absence from the OTAs and his decision to stay on the West Coast — where he occasionally worked with Hall of Famer Cris Carter — left many wondering about the team’s leading receiver in each of his three seasons.
Beckham said he reflected on how last season ended.
“It’s like LeBron losing the (NBA) Finals,” Beckham said. “You look back on it and see what you could have done better and how you could have handled the situation better or whatever the case may be. It’s all about life. It’s a learning process and you just have to take it with a grain of salt and grow from it. That’s what I have been doing.”
Beckham said his relationship with Reese has not changed, adding that his goal is to mature every day. He also noted he has added a couple of gray hairs.
When told co-owner John Mara wants him to be a Giant for life, Beckham seemed happy.
“I think we are on the same page there,” he said.
Coach Ben McAdoo said it was great to have Beckham back.
“He didn’t miss a beat when he came in,” McAdoo said. “He looks in good condition.”
Quarterback Eli Manning didn’t think that Beckham missed much by skipping the OTAs nor did he think his absence was a distraction.
“He’ll be fine,” said Manning, who talked and texted with Beckham in the offseason. “He’ll know what he is doing. He’ll be ready to do.”
Joining Beckham at the minicamp was defensive end Olivier Vernon, who earned second-team All Pro honors last season after signing a five-year $85 million contract. He also skipped the OTAs, noting he has been training on his own since his days with the Dolphins in Miami.
NOTES: McAdoo sported a new slicked back hairdo. “Got to keep you all on your toes,” McAdoo said. … DE Owa Odighizuwa has been excused from the minicamp. The 2015 third-round draft pick is considering whether he wants to keep playing. … CB Eli Apple and S Darian Thompson were ill Tuesday and did not work out. Starting G Justin Pugh was limited.