Giants’ Saquon Barkley could be on his way out but isn’t ready to close the door on a return

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley
Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have a few big decisions to make this off-season, one of them being the future of Saquon Barkley. The Giants franchise tagged Barkley last year, paying him $10.1 million, and have the same choice to make over the next few weeks after the Super Bowl comes to an end.

Giants’ Financial Considerations and Contract Restructuring

At the moment, general manager Joe Schoen has about $22 million in salary space to work with, not considering the $5.7 million he can save from cutting Mark Glowinski and $6.7 million from Darren Waller. Glowinski seems like the obvious choice to release, but the team also has to consider paying their draft picks and carrying over a bit of money into the regular season.

That suggests they could restructure the contracts of Andrew Thomas and Dexter Lawrence, which would open up around $25 million, but they should stay away from Daniel Jones’ guarantees, given they have an out after the 2024 campaign with $22 million in dead money — Schoen doesn’t want to be paying Jones $30+ million in guarantees for two additional years.

Barkley’s Contract Negotiations

Barkley is looking for a “fair” contract and even suggested to the New York Post that he would be fine giving the Giants a chance to match any offers on the free agent market.

Of course, that would certainly suggest he wants to stay in New York, but the Giants haven’t been willing to bend the knee and offer him a substantial payday. A deal averaging around $12 million per season for three years could be enough, but the team would have to have an out after the second year to protect their interests long-term. It always comes down to guaranteed money, so if the Giants guaranteed $20 million out of $36 million, he may be willing to accept that compromise.

Despite reports trying to make Saquon look greedy last year, he indicated that he simply wants to get something done, representing his value, despite the running back position losing its allure as the game modernizes.

Barkley’s Future and Suitors

“I’m not hard to work with. I know sources came out to try to make it seem like I’m greedy, but it’s not even close to being like that,” Barkley said. “They know where my heart is. If it doesn’t work out, I get it. Hey, it’s not like my football career is over.”

Saquon now understands the business nature of these decisions, and while he wasn’t able to convince the Giants to offer a long-term extension, he understands the nature of the game.

Ultimately, Barkley just wants to win, whether that be with the Giants or another team. Based on the potential suitors in free agency, not many teams will likely be willing to give him a big payday and be in a position to win football games immediately, but there have been rumors that Jim Harbaugh with the Los Angeles Chargers has interest.

“I want to win a Super Bowl,” Barkley said. “No matter what, from here on out, I just want to be competitive, whether it’s with the Giants or somewhere else.

The Chargers are looking to turn a corner but are currently over the salary cap by $45.8 million. They can clear $23.25 million by cutting Khalil Mack and $23.1 million by releasing Keenan Allen, so there are ways to make room and add Barkley, but they certainly won’t be dishing out too many big contracts this off-season.

Saquon may have to settle for a worse team just to get his bag, but he may be surprised at how unwilling teams are to spend at the running position, especially ones in rebuild mode.