Why Odell Beckham Jr. would be a good fit for the Dallas Cowboys | Opinion

Christian D'Andrea
For The Win

Odell Beckham Jr., fresh off his first Super Bowl win — and a torn ACL — remains one of the NFL’s highest-profile free agents. As training camps rage on, the former All-Pro remains an intriguing addition for receiving-needy teams across the league.

The Green Bay Packers could use him after losing him to the Los Angeles Rams last fall. The Rams could opt to run it back with him, even with Allen Robinson in town and former second-round picks Van Jefferson and Tutu Atwell angling for larger roles. The Chicago Bears need someone to catch passes alongside Darnell Mooney and help Justin Fields reach his potential.

But there’s one team that makes more sense — both for Beckham’s on-field results and his legacy in the NFL — than any other. It’s the Dallas Cowboys.

OBJ to Dallas has cooled a bit through the offseason. The Cowboys once had the third-best odds to land the veteran star but have currently slid into a tie for fifth behind the Rams, Packers, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills. But fans are still clamoring to see him in silver and blue. And they’ve got a point.

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Beckham is a risk, but an acceptable one. He’s a player that elevated Eli Manning but couldn’t do the same for Baker Mayfield. He’ll turn 30 years old in November and is coming off a torn ACL suffered from February. He was inconsistent in Sean McVay’s offense in the regular season as a Ram, breaking out for 75-plus receiving yards twice and failing to hit 40 yards in his six other games.

And that’s fine, because Dallas doesn’t need a WR1 to buoy its offense in September and October. It needs a proven performer who can make a difference in the win-or-go-home pressure cooker of January.

OBJ proved he can take a stout passing offense to the next level in the playoffs. He had 19 catches on 23 targets in his first three postseason games as a Ram, racking up 236 yards and even throwing a 40-yard pass to Cam Akers. He had two catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl 56 despite tearing his ACL in the second quarter. With defenses focused on Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp, Beckham thrived when it mattered most.

San Francisco 49ers' Ambry Thomas, bottom, tries to stop Los Angeles Rams' Odell Beckham Jr. during the first half of the NFC Championship NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Cowboys don’t have Kupp, but they have a rising young wideout who would thrive in the single coverage opportunities Beckham brings to an offense. CeeDee Lamb set career highs with 79 receptions and 1,102 receiving yards last season. Beckham would create massive opportunities downfield for Dak Prescott — who has completed just shy of half of his throws 20-plus yards past the line of scrimmage the last two seasons (45 of 91) — when safety coverage is drawn toward OBJ.

Lamb would also give his theoretical veteran running mate room to crush defenses when the extra defender is focused on him over the top. The Rams utilized Beckham more as a midrange threat; his average 7.5 yards before catch in L.A. were the lowest of his career. Beckham’s 3.8 yards after catch were significantly higher than they’d been in either of the last two years in Cleveland, proving he’s still an elusive chain-mover with the ball in his hands.

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The pairing isn’t a perfect fit. The Cowboys already have a well-paid wideout returning from an ACL tear in Michael Gallup, who re-signed with the club for five years and $57.5 million this spring. He’s led the team in target depth each of the last two seasons, emerging as a viable deep threat who, paired with Lamb, would likely push Beckham’s routes closer to the line of scrimmage. If OBJ wants to prove he’s still a downfield burner, Dallas may not offer the same kind of route freedom as the Kansas City Chiefs or Green Bay.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates after a play as defensive end Tarell Basham (93) looks on on opening day of NFL football training camp, Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Oxnard, Calif. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

But Beckham would get to play with another upper-floor quarterback in Prescott, who made more plays in the regular season than Rams’ Matthew Stafford (a 2.3 percent completion percentage over expected versus Stafford’s -0.1). He’d also get to play in one of the NFL’s easiest divisions, as only the Philadelphia Eagles look like a real threat to the Cowboys’ crown. That creates a little extra buffer room for his injury rehab, as well as adjusting to his third NFL offense in less than one calendar year.

The Cowboys have the room to fit Beckham in on a one-year, prove-it deal that’s slightly bigger than the one he signed in L.A. ($4.25 million for eight regular season games). Dallas’ $22.4 million is the second-largest cap space in the NFL at the start of training camp, giving them room to pay OBJ something like $10 million for 2022 in whatever form of crypto that will eventually pay out $3 million in 2023.

The Cowboys may be satisfied with Lamb and Gallup atop their wideout depth chart. They could put faith in the young prospects trying to work their way into the starting lineup. After all, they’ve got T.J. Vasher doing things like this in training camp:

But Beckham can provide the real thing on Sundays. Despite an extended breaking-in process, he was vital to the Rams’ postseason run to a Lombardi Trophy.

The Cowboys are 3-10 in the playoffs since 1997 and haven’t advanced out of the Divisional Round in that stretch. OBJ might not be the extra horsepower that pushes Dallas over that horizon. But he might be, and with money to spend, what do the Cowboys have to lose?