Nike is now the long-term, exclusive home to Beckham Jr.'s creative aspirations. Though the final terms of the contract haven't been publically released, DePaula reports Beckham's new deal is valued at $29 million over five years with the potential to reach $48 million over an eight-year span if he hits a series of bonus incentives.
Turning Beckham into the NFL's wealthiest brand ambassador makes sense when you take it at face value. He's established himself as one of the game's top offensive weapons. Three seasons has resulted in 4,122 receiving yards, 35 touchdowns and 288 receptions. To say he's on a historic tear would be insulting.
By upgrading his Nike endorsement, Beckham now joins the elite company of LeBron James and Kevin Durant as current Nike athletes who take home more money from Team Swoosh than the franchises they're contractually obligated to, per ESPN's Darren Rovell.
For all the excitement surrounding the deal, we have to put Beckham's upgraded endorsement into perspective. His contract, though impressive, pales in comparison to current and past NBA deals.
Take this into account: The 10-year, $250 million sponsorship Durant signed in the summer of 2014 crushes the $48 million plateau Beckham might reach at the conclusion of eight years.
Durant versus Beckham represents an accurate comparison. Both men are superstars in their respective sports.
Why has this remained the norm? "Football players rarely sell a lot of shoes. That is why the contracts are so much smaller than basketball players," Matt Powell of the NPD Group explained to Bleacher Report.
It makes sense. Despite fielding potentially the largest endorsement deal in the NFL, Beckham's contract remains significantly smaller than his NBA counterparts and equal to those without megastar status.
To better understand the dollars, you have to circle back to the NBA. Washington Wizards guard John Wall received $25 million from Reebok after the 2010 NBA draft, via The Ringer's Haley O'Shaughnessy. An unestablished rookie from Kentucky (albeit the first overall pick) essentially was paid the same value as Beckham's base contract—not to mention it came from a brand not named Nike or Adidas.
Brands competing at all different levels of the footwear spectrum are spending dollars comparable to Beckham's deal in pro basketball. Chinese apparel company Anta, contractural overlords to Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, are paying the younger Splash Brother a base salary of $3 million annually, according to DePaula of Nice Kicks. Details of the incentives he's reached haven't surfaced.
We've checked off the rookie deal, the superstar deal and the in-between deal. What about guys heading toward the twilight of their careers?
Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade has bounced across the kicks universe. His latest stop with the Chinese brand Li-Ning will net him nearly $60 million over 10 years, per ESPN.com's Christopher Beam. It's further proof that basketball still generates a lightning storm of dollars.
The money Nike spent on Beckham still could pay off dividends if the strategy devised is sound. We know his popularity expands well past the commanding New York market. According to Andre Vergara of Fox Sports, No. 13's jersey was the third-highest seller in 2016.
He also has gained traction within the subcultures of high fashion. Beckham is now an influencer. The 24-year-old has become a staple of popular fashion-driven publications like Upscale Hype, showcasing his taste for streetwear choices.
The plan for Beckham and Nike's refreshed partnership will revolve around not only footwear but also apparel, per DePaula of Nice Kicks.
Beckham tackling a bigger role within Nike makes all the sense in the world. He possesses the assets you'd want in a modern athlete. A large social media following—around 12 million followers when you combine Instagram, Twitter and Facebook—respect within the fashion community and a flurry of adoring fans ready to spend money on his gear.
Adding in a footwear element isn't a new experiment either. History is filled with tales of the NFL athletes breaking rank and flowing over to the footwear sphere. From Deion Sanders' Nike Air Diamond Turf to Darrelle Revis' signature Zoom Revis all the way up to Victor Cruz's Air Trainer series over the last two years, giving NFL guys a platform to showcase their marketing skills remains an everyday part of business.
For their respective parts, Revis and Cruz's deals with Nike didn't come close to garnering the same cash as Beckham. "I don't know exact figures for those two, but I don't think either were over a million. The $1 million threshold is super rare for NFL endorsers," DePaula discussed with Bleacher Report.
Powell of the NPD Group doesn't expect the footwear portion of Beckham's deal to produce any seismic shift in sales. His personal belief is OBJ's value will be better served as a spokesman. "It's big money for football," he mentioned.
No one knows the exact path Nike has carved out for Beckham. However, we do know a couple of things for certain. Even a superstar with Beckham's stature doesn't compare with the majority of low-end or veteran NBA endorsement deals out there. Brands don't rely on NFL athletes to move nearly as much product.
Secondly, we do know Beckham's presence within Nike football remains critical to its ongoing success. Comparative dollars aside, the contract he signed makes Beckham a global brand ambassador for the gridiron. Few athletes today sell the game better than OBJ, and Nike is banking on that to remain the case.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. All stats and information provided by Sports Reference unless noted otherwise.