Sheldon Richardson doesn’t quite understand the outrage at Odell Beckham’s Jr.’s desire to become the league’s top-paid player. In fact, it makes perfect sense to pay the man.
“Honestly, I understand why he said that,” Richardson told the Daily News in a candid discussion Tuesday. “And honestly, he should be, because the NFL makes a lot of money off of him.”
“Why not?” the Jets defensive lineman continued. “You can pretty much throw the ball anywhere in his direction and he’ll go catch it. It all depends on your team, bro. If this guy’s the guy that’s getting it done day in and day out, he should be the highest (paid). Then you include the entertainment value that he brings to the Giants and football in general. You sell a lot of T-shirts and jerseys off his name, so why not? The dude is a superstar. There’s no doubting that at all.”
Quarterbacks have ruled the roost in the salary cap era that began 24 years ago. Derek Carr became the league’s first $ 25 million-per-year man this offseason with a five-year, $ 125 million extension.
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Richardson, however, believes the warped salary hierarchy should change.
“There’s more than one position out there,” said Richardson, who is scheduled to make $ 8.1 million this season on the team’s fifth-year option. “Yeah, is it tough to win without a quarterback? It’s tremendously hard to win without a quarterback. It really is. But, honestly, when you got receivers like that catching anything and everything, it’s not hard to get a quarterback to get them the ball. It really ain’t. … Why not pay him? I don’t understand why people downgrade every position except the quarterback position.”
Beckham is off to a historic start in his career. He ranks in the top five in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns for all receivers through their first three seasons. He is a difference maker of the highest order, Richardson contends, so why should he take a back seat to quarterbacks across the league who don’t provide the same impact? (Matthew Stafford is in line for a big pay day. Kirk Cousins will cash in after this season).
Antonio Brown is the league’s top earner at wide receiver with a $ 17 million annual average, but Richardson supports the notion that the elite pass catchers should get $ 25 million. That stratosphere shouldn’t be reserved for only quarterbacks, he said.
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“Why only pay a quarterback $ 25 million a year?” Richardson said. “Do you know how many ass quarterbacks there are in this league? It’s a lot. Bad quarterbacks. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. So, if there are more bad quarterbacks getting paid, then why not pay great receivers?”
No receiver has been the league’s highest paid player under the current collective bargaining agreement. Larry Fitzgerald’s $ 16.142 million average annual salary made him the league’s fourth highest player in 2011, according to CBS Sports research. Calvin Johnson’s $ 16.2 million average annual salaries in 2012 and 2013 made him the league’s fifth and ninth highest paid player in those seasons, per CBS Sports. No other receiver has had a Top 10 salary under the new CBA. Brown ranks 23rd in salary this season.
“If you get a receiver that makes an average quarterback good,” Richardson said, “Why not pay that receiver?”
Although Richardson concedes that the Giants “just don’t have the cap space” to ink Beckham to a lucrative long-term deal right now, he is adamant that the playmaking wideout should be the league’s top earner with a $ 25 million annual rate.
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The first step, of course, is for non-quarterbacks to break the $ 20 million threshold. Broncos pass-rushing superstar Von Miller tops the guys who are not under center with a $ 19.08 million salary this season, according to CBS Sports.
Pro Bowlers Aaron Donald (this year) and Khalil Mack (next year) are sure to break the $ 20 million barrier.
Will Beckham join them?
Richardson believes it’s a no-brainer.
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