Giants facing major franchise tag question with star running back

new york giants, saquon barkley

As the franchise tag deadline approaches, the New York Giants face a critical decision regarding star running back Saquon Barkley’s future with the team. Despite the looming March 5 deadline for applying the franchise tag, reports from Paul Schwartz of the New York Post suggest the Giants are leaning towards not using this option on Barkley.

Contract Negotiations and Performance

After navigating the business intricacies of the NFL last offseason, Barkley is in search of a fair contract, whether it remains with the Giants or leads him elsewhere. Following a commendable 2023 season with 962 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns over 14 games, Barkley has demonstrated consistent performance, playing at least 13 games in each of the past three years despite battling injuries.

Having earned $10.1 million under the franchise tag last season, a repeat would necessitate a $2 million salary increase for Barkley. The franchise tag’s guaranteed nature means Barkley could secure $22 million over two years, but the Giants seem poised to reallocate those funds toward strengthening other areas of the team.

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The Giants’ Strategic Shift

Despite Barkley’s pivotal role, the Giants have struggled to find success, with only a sporadic playoff appearance in 2022 marking a highlight during his tenure.

With the running back position perceived as diminishing in value and the Giants’ apparent shift towards enhancing their passing game, Barkley’s departure seems increasingly likely barring a mutually agreeable compromise. His leadership and intangible qualities in the locker room are notable factors the Giants will need to address in his potential absence.

Furthermore, young pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux has publicly stated his belief that Barkley deserved a contract extension before quarterback Daniel Jones last offseason, highlighting the team’s recognition of Barkley’s significant contribution. However, as the Giants aim to change their strategic direction, the probability of Barkley and the team parting ways appears high.

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