Odell Beckham Jr.'s no-show in AFC Championship Game proves Cowboys dodged a bullet

Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers
Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers / Robin Alam/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The Super Bowl matchup is set, as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will lock horns with a championship on the line for the second time in four years. There was reason to believe the Dallas Cowboys would have made it this far, but they fell three wins short. Let's not revisit that nightmare, though.

As far as the Chiefs-Ravens game is concerned, Kansas City's defense absolutely foiled Lamar Jackson. The Chiefs didn't score a point in the second half, but they managed the clock after jumping out to an early lead and watched Baltimore commit myriad self-inflicted wounds.

Jackson had no answer to the Chiefs blitz. It would've helped if he had a receiver not named Zay Flowers who got open against man coverage, though.

Flowers had five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. No other Ravens pass-catcher had more than 39 receiving yards or three catches.

Ideally, Odell Beckham Jr. would've made a bigger impact. That's certainly what you would expect from a player making $15 million, but his three catches for 22 yards didn't come until late in the fourth quarter when Baltimore was trailing by two scores and the Chiefs were allowing underneath passes to bleed more clock.

Cowboys dodged a bullet not signing Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason

Beckham's no-show in the AFC Championship Game was the latest evidence that the Cowboys dodged a bullet. Make no mistake: Jerry Jones wanted Beckham. The team actively recruited Beckham and Jones made sure the media knew about it by talking about the WR at every turn.

You might remember Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs treating Beckham to courtside seats at a Mavericks game. Talk about laying out the red carpet. An agreement felt inevitable, but things seemingly hit a snag after Dallas leaked concerns about his physical coming off a torn ACL.

Thankfully, the Cowboys pivoted to Brandin Cooks, whom they acquired from the Texans for a 2023 fifth-round pick and 2024 sixth-round pick. For the season, Cooks caught 54 passes for 657 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers might seem underwhelming, but he always turned up in high-leverage moments.

Meanwhile, Beckham finished with 35 catches for 565 yards and three scores. For context, Cooks logged more catches that went for first downs (38) than Beckham had total receptions. Including the playoffs, OBJ had 11 games with less than 35 receiving yards and just two games with more than 60 yards receiving.

All while pocketing $15 million. Before the season, Dallas restructured Cooks' contract to give him a $10 million salary in 2023 and '24. Not only did Beckham's production pale in comparison to Cooks', but he made $5 million more.

The Cowboys ultimately fell short of their goal this year, but it's fair to question if they even win 12 games -- and therefore the NFC East and No. 2 seed -- if they signed Beckham over acquiring Cooks.

A free agent again this offseason, let's hope Dallas learned its lesson and steers clear of the former All-Pro. Sunday's loss proved he doesn't have much left in the tank.

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