Giants: Optimism growing over Saquon Barkley contract extension

daniel jones, saquon barkley, new york giants
Oct 23, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) celebrates with teammate running back Saquon Barkley (26) after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants, together with their star running back, Saquon Barkley, are in a countdown to July 17 for a potential contract extension. If a deal fails to materialize, Barkley will face the franchise tag decision, either securing a guaranteed $10.1 million or opting for a 2023 season holdout. The latter would not be the most prudent decision for a running back and considering the monetary stakes.

Saquon Barkley’s Value in Giants’ Eyes

Despite the continuous pressure from the ownership for a deal, General Manager Joe Schoen doesn’t seem to be in a rush to secure Barkley’s contract extension. This hesitation could be attributed to the diminishing value of the running back position, notwithstanding Barkley’s impressive performance and a phenomenal recent season.

In 2022, Barkley made his mark with a second Pro Bowl appearance, accumulating 1,650 yards from scrimmage, inclusive of 10 touchdowns. The double-digit scoring feat is his first since his initial season back in 2018.

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The Potential Agreement on the Horizon

Contract extension talks have been somewhat quiet, but an NFL insider has hinted at a glimmer of optimism that both parties may find a middle ground in the upcoming weeks. “I just checked in on this and I was told there’s no hard-and-fast update right now, but there is at least some level of optimism that these sides can come to an agreement at some point,” Jeremy Fowler from ESPN shared on SportsCenter.

Barkley is hoping for a better guarantee on his money, seeing as the annual salary doesn’t hold as much weight. After carrying the Giants’ offense on his shoulders for several seasons, a sense of security seems like a fair demand, especially considering the positive culture and effort he has invested through some challenging coaching staffs.

A Change in Game Strategy: More Passes, Fewer Runs

The Giants are contemplating a more pass-heavy strategy, which would ultimately increase the receivers’ reps while reducing those at the running back position. The team’s draft pick of Eric Gray from Oklahoma could potentially fill the three-down role in the future, but Schoen stands by his belief in Barkley’s impact, despite his avoidance of overpaying the running back position.

“They’ve been talking throughout the offseason. Giants ownership values Barkley; he’s considered a centerpiece-type player for them. But Barkley wants a stronger contract structure, most likely stronger guarantees in how that contract is structured. So, Giants have to find a sweet spot there.”

However, the keys were handed over to Schoen when he was chosen as the team’s general manager by Co-owner John Mara. Mara cannot now alter the path by stepping in. He needs to let Schoen’s strategy take its course, which involves protecting the salary cap against undesirable contracts and prepping the team for the future through sound drafting and measured moves.