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Odell Beckham Bowl? Cowboys, Giants may be playing for more than a win on Thanksgiving

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FRISCO, Texas. If Alabama and Auburn play the Iron Bowl this weekend, and the Ole Miss State and Mississippi State football teams meet in the egg bowl, then perhaps the New York Giants’ Thanksgiving visit to the Dallas Cowboys is ripe to call it Well.

May we suggest: The Odell Beckham Jr. Cup?

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The scheme isn’t as simple as, well, the winner gets a three-time Pro Bowl recipient who’s returning from an ACL injury in February and is expected to sign with the team soon. But a pair of 7-3 NFC East teams battling Thursday appear to be top contenders for his services.

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Jan Rapoport of NFL Network announced on Monday that Beckham plans to visit every club after Thanksgiving, the Giants offer the opportunity to return to his five-year-old home, while Dallas and Beckham are described by Rapoport as having “so, so, so much mutual interest.”

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And we don’t need to rely on reports for that guess. Because the Cowboys — from team owner Jerry Jones to head coach Mike McCarthy to quarterback Dak Prescott to defensive end favorite Mickey Parsons — told us themselves.

Cowboys are not thin

Prescott was the trickiest until Tuesday. He allowed his teammates and Jones to publicly challenge for the wide receiver, who returned to the market after a three-month stint with the Los Angeles Rams that included five touchdowns in eight regular season games, two more in the postseason, and the Lombardi Trophy.

Prescott did not tweet to Beckham like Parsons did, nor did he poetize in interviews like wide receiver CD Lamb or team management. The quarterback expressed interest firmly but briefly. Till Tuesday. It was then, standing at his locker after a walk-through practice, that Prescott confirmed he had been texting his Louisiana native.

Free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may soon sign with the team, and it looks like his decision will be up to the Cowboys or the Giants.  (Photo by Kevin K. Cox/Getty Images)
Free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may soon sign with the team, and it looks like his decision will be up to the Cowboys or the Giants. (Photo by Kevin K. Cox/Getty Images)

“Definitely I sent some messages,” Prescott said when pressed. “It was a little back and forth. Just to make sure he understands that we want him to be here. As I said before, this is a business. But right now, I think it’s someone who can hire better. Yeah, I don’t know what he’s looking for when it comes to numbers and long term and all that, but I know we want him here and hope it works out.”

Prescott described the interest as “mutual, honest”. Mutual.” He agreed that business and contract numbers would come into play, “but I feel like it’s mutual.”

Jones, speaking on his regular radio show Tuesday, mentioned Beckham for at least the tenth time. He declined to get into the negotiation, saying that unless Beckham’s health and financial goals were at least plausible, Dallas would not prepare to bring Beckham to the site for a visit. Jones said Sunday he thought the Cowboys looked like a Super Bowl-caliber team in the Minnesota Vikings’ 40-3 breakout. On Tuesday, he indicated that the comment was related to his harassment of Beckham.

Of course, the Cowboys’ 7-3 record equals that of the Giants, with the Cowboys’ head-to-head victory giving them a playoff lead on Thursday. But Vegas is also far favoring the Cowboys’ Super Bowl chances over the Giants due to game trends and health. The Cowboys won seven games, despite missing Prescott in five of them with a broken thumb. Wide receiver Michael Gallup and running back Ezekiel Elliot are back from knee injuries, while All-Pro left tackle Tyrone Smith could be back as early as December. On the other hand, the Giants currently lack two starting wide receivers, two starting offensive linemen, their starting tight end, starting edge rusher, and three starting quarterbacks. More doubtful; and yet some, including receivers Sterling Shepard and Van’Dale Robinson, were out for the season.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Cowboys are heading in a much more positive direction. If Beckham wants a team with a better chance of winning the playoffs, the Cowboys have a 99% chance of making the playoffs and a 15% chance of winning the Super Bowl. according to FiveThirtyEight playoff prediction (only Chiefs, 23% better). According to FiveThirtyEight, the Giants have a 51% chance of a postseason spot and a 0.4% chance of winning the championship.

Beckham expressed interest in playing for an opponent. And yet: he seems to be intrigued by the giants.

trip home

Of course, there is, as Giants star running back Saquon Barkley put it, romance in Beckham’s eventual return to the team that selected him 12th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Beckham’s five seasons in New York include all three of his Pro Bowl years. He averaged 92.8 yards per game in 59 games, reaching the endzone 44 times. Several of his former teammates, including Barkley and Shepard, would become teammates again if he chose New York. The Giants have to decide their contracting future with Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones this offseason, but head coach Brian Daball and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka impressed the league with creative schemes that maximize staffing.

Barkley laughed at the Cowboys’ hyper-public recruitment, quipping, “I don’t need to tweet him” to let Beckham know how he feels. Barkley said he understands why NFL players need a talent like Beckham, who is “a damn good player.” So why go to the injury riddled Lion Giants who lost last week?

“There’s really no commercial offer,” Barkley said on Nov. 11, before the loss. “This is New York. These are the Giants. He obviously has familiar faces in this facility, in this dressing room and in person.”

Beckham should have no problem finding shots with giants who really need receiver depth.

“I think it would be great to go back to where it used to be and continue to help make it successful,” Barkley said. “Come here with the right mindset, be a leader and be the player he can be for this team. Like I said, he’s a special player.”

Wide receiver Darius Slayton told the NFL Network this week that the Giants who played alongside Beckham “love him.”

“I’m all for anyone helping our team,” Slayton said. “So if he wants to come here and sign here, I think he knows where the house is. And I’ll leave it with that.

“We have a chance”

On Thursday, the Cowboys attack first and defend against a pass, hosting a team of giants that turned out to be much more erratic and schematically complex than expected in the first year of this headquarters. According to BetMGM, the Cowboys are 9.5 points ahead. But they know how emotions run high in division games, how they lost their last three Thanksgiving competitions, and how the Giants have outperformed at multiple events this year. Dallas insists that after the 37-point victory in Minnesota, the situation does not subside.

“I just really think we don’t have a locker room like that to even be arrogant,” Ezekiel Elliott said. “I think we all have something to prove. We all have something to play with. I don’t think any of us are satisfied with 7-3.

“We know what the bigger plan is, the bigger goal, and we’re not even close to it yet.”

In the meantime, the Cowboys are hoping they are close to playing together and not just talking to Beckham. Could the deal take place as early as next week? The visit will soon follow Thanksgiving.

Until then, Jerry Jones plans to keep reminding Beckham and fans across the country that this Cowboy team has the talent and power to fight for the Super Bowl. His coaches and players may have to focus on the next game. But the team owner, Jones believes, is looking the other way.

“That guy who’s talking about going out and picking up the phone and coming over here and making this move right now must be thinking about last Thursday, don’t you think?” Jones made the announcement on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “The main thing that everyone will agree on is that if you can improve this team right now and within reason, then you should do it.

“We have a chance.”

Follow Jori Epstein of Sportzshala Sports on Twitter. @JoriEpstein


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