Could the Giants’ locker room collapse if they fail to extend star playmaker?

new york giants, saquon barkley
Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants are facing a critical juncture, with the potential loss of two key leaders – star safety Xavier McKinney and standout running back Saquon Barkley. Their departures could significantly impact the team, both on and off the field.

Barkley’s Contract Situation and Leadership Role

Despite Barkley’s immense contribution to the Giants, the team has been reluctant to offer a long-term extension to running backs, adhering to an analytical model that advises against such investments. However, Barkley’s value transcends his on-field production; he is a pivotal leader and a unifying figure within the team.

Barkley seeks fair compensation in line with his market value, but the Giants appear hesitant to meet his expectations. Even young pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux has publicly voiced his opinion, arguing that Barkley deserved a contract extension before Daniel Jones secured his $160 million deal.

“I believe in Daniel Jones,” Thibodeaux stated via the “7PM in Brooklyn.” “What I’m mad about is that Saquon — because if you look at the game, the tape, Saquon was responsible for at least 30 percent of our explosive plays, talking about the year [2022] we won the playoff game.

“So, for me and for the integrity of working together and hard work, and we all believe the same things, I feel like Saquon should have got paid first. That’s what I feel.”

Thibodeaux highlighted Barkley’s critical role in the team’s offensive success, particularly in their 2022 playoff-winning season. His viewpoint underscores the dilemma the Giants face: balancing financial prudence with maintaining team morale and leadership.

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Navigating McKinney’s Value and Barkley’s Future

The situation is further complicated by Xavier McKinney’s impending free agency. McKinney, slightly younger and coming off an outstanding season, arguably offers more value from a football standpoint. His position also carries more justified value in the current market.

Barkley, on the other hand, has remained dedicated to the Giants through challenging seasons. His desire to win with the team is evident, but the Giants’ apparent lack of readiness to contend for a championship might push him to explore opportunities elsewhere.

If the Giants were to present Barkley with a fair offer, it’s likely he would commit to the team. However, with no significant progress in negotiations, Barkley’s future with the Giants seems increasingly uncertain.

Impact on the Giants’ 2024 Prospects

As the Giants approach the 2024 season, the decisions regarding McKinney and Barkley will be crucial. Losing these influential players could lead to a tumultuous period, especially considering their importance in maintaining team cohesion and morale. The Giants must carefully weigh their financial decisions against the potential impact on team dynamics and performance.