Following the conclusion of the 2023 NFL draft, the New York Giants are working to address lingering concerns. One of their most significant issues is the potential for star running back Saquon Barkley to refuse to play on the $10.1 million franchise tag. Although the entire deal is guaranteed, Barkley seeks a more substantial contract that provides multi-year security.
Earlier this offseason, Barkley expressed his understanding of his value and desire for a fair deal. Reports suggested that Barkley’s representatives were seeking Christian McCaffrey-level compensation, upwards of $15 million per season—well beyond the Giants’ budget for a running back. Fortunately, Barkley denied those claims.
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As the market narrows and teams are hesitant to make substantial investments in the position, Barkley faces an uphill battle in securing a lucrative financial agreement. However, General Manager Joe Schoen appears determined to reach a compromise with Barkley’s agents, who are pursuing the highest possible payday.
“Yeah, we’ll talk this coming week now that the draft is over, kind of reconvene, see if [a new offer] makes sense or not,” Schoen said, according to Jordan Rannan of ESPN.com. “Have dialogue now that the draft is over.”
The Giants aren’t going to pay top dollar for Saquon Barkley:
The Giants previously offered Barkley approximately $12 million per season before the 2022 campaign concluded. Barkley rejected the offer, hoping for a more profitable arrangement. However, as demonstrated in free agency, running backs are no longer receiving high salaries. Teams are opting for the draft, securing players on far more affordable deals for 4-5 years, in hopes of enhancing their offense and restarting the cycle.
Schoen did not make any significant acquisitions other than selecting Oklahoma RB Eric Gray late in the draft. Gray possesses three-down potential at the NFL level but requires refinement, suggesting Barkley’s position is secure. In fact, Gray’s presence could signal the end for Matt Breida, who is on a one-year, $1.4 million contract. The Giants could save $900,000 by releasing Breida but would have to absorb $500,000 in dead money.
Realistically, the Giants are unlikely to offer Barkley more than $13 million per season, and any deal would probably span three years. Considering the limited longevity of running backs and Barkley’s history of multiple serious injuries, committing to more than three years would entail considerable risk.
It would not be surprising if Schoen sought to create incentives for Barkley to achieve, safeguarding the salary cap situation while maximizing the elite talent’s potential.