Will the Giants offense have bite without Barkley?
Running back Saquon Barkley was a sizable piece of the surprising 2022 Giants, who made their way to the playoffs and won a game before being ousted by the eventual NFC champion Eagles. Barkley had a hand in all of it, and it even led to in-season contract negotiations to get a deal done.
No deal was struck and offseason contract negotiations sputtered and stalled, leading to the Giants slapping the franchise tag on the 2018 No. 2 overall selection. That hasn't pleased Barkley, who is creeping closer to staying away this offseason.
"I have a lot of respect in this league and I think that's how I should be viewed."— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) June 12, 2023
Saquon Barkley gives an extended answer about the running back market: pic.twitter.com/kYBs83Bf8F
"I have a lot of respect in this league, and I think that's how I should be viewed," Barkley said at a recent youth football camp.
There don't seem to be any panic buttons or major points of urgency for Barkley just yet, however, as he said the two sides have until mid-July to get a deal done.
"For me, it’s like we got until July 17," Barkley said (via the New York Post). "They can say what they want. We can say what we want. … Just one day at a time. One day at a time. Now, that day comes up and I have to sit down and have that conversation, then I will sit down and have that conversation."
To Barkley's point, there is still time to get a deal worked out: Though he isn't planning to make his way to Giants mandatory mini-camp beginning on June 13, the two sides have an opportunity to put pen to paper on a new contract before July 17. After that, Barkley will have to play out the 2023 season on the franchise tag, or hit the nuclear option — sit out regular-season games until the Giants meet his asking price.
To that end, what the price tag will ultimately end up is a major question. Barkley has reportedly looked for a "Christian McCaffrey-type" contract, which would be in the neighborhood of four years and $64 million. That $16 million per season number would be more than what the Giants have reportedly offer both during and after the season; New York brass have offered both $13 million and $12.5 million a season, both of which Barkley turned down.
Barkley may have just hit the market at the wrong time, too. Currently, the running back market is depressed entering the 2023, with three star running backs — Barkley, Dallas' Tony Pollard and Vegas' Josh Jacobs — all hit with the franchise tag this offseason. With teams opting more for value in the draft over handing out big-money contracts, it's a trend that will likely continue into 2023 and beyond.
Barkley is coming off a very good regular season that saw him hit a career high in rushing yards (1,312) with 10 TDs on the ground to pair with it. Barkley, though, scuffled over his last seven games played, rushing for 381 yards on 97 carries.
Still, he feels like he's worth the money — but Big Blue doesn't seem to want to shell out big green for him.
Saquon Barkley contract projection
Should Barkley sign an extension, expect him to receive something in the three-year range, worth around $38 million. That would pay Barkley out just over $12 million per season (a number above the franchise tag, currently set at $10.09 million) and give the Giants a runway to get out of the deal in a few years' time should the 26-year-old back regress or not perform to standard.
The guarantees remain something of a question, as well. While Barkley may end up getting the years (four) he's potentially looking for, the guarantees may not be there. McCaffrey's deal wound up paying $30 million guaranteed, a with that money running out over the final two years of the deal. Given his injury history and general inconsistencies, Barkley may have to settle for a bit less, potentially in the $20 million range.