The Giants took a brilliant approach with Saquon Barkley’s contract situation

new york giants, saquon barkley
Dec 4, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) scores a rushing touchdown during the first half against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants have consistently voiced their desire to keep him around for the long term. Investing in running backs is strategically a bad move, as history would suggest, but Barkley is far more than just a talented player. He’s also a leader in the locker room and brings intangible traits that a number can’t value.

Instead of extending Barkley on a long-term deal, despite the Giants offering him slightly above $12 million per season, he decided to sit pretty and demand more, eventually forcing the Giants to slap him with the franchise tag at $10.1 million. It seemed as if the club was keen on having a play at that number instead of offering a long-term contract.

Barkley may have hurt himself since Miles Sanders, the top running back on the market, landed just $6 million per season. Considering Barkley’s injury history and the lack of longevity surrounding running backs, it is difficult to justify that Barkley is twice as good as Sanders, so the argument he should be making over $12 million per season is a tough one.

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That said, general manager Joe Schoen indicated that the Giants don’t have a long-term deal on the table right now despite the fact that owner John Mara indicated he would like Barkley to stay in New York for life.

“There’s no outstanding offer right now,” GM Joe Schoen said on Monday.

For a moment, the Giants nearly had to franchise tag Daniel Jones, but they worked out a deal just before free agency began and the franchise tag deadline expired. Barkley will likely play at the $10.1 million number, significantly less than he would’ve gained in free agency on an extension.

“Once we put the franchise tag on him, we stepped back. We knew that throughout the negotiation that if there was a time that we can’t come to an agreement, we’re going to go to the franchise tag. And that’s what we did.”

The New York Giants are doing what’s in their best interest:

Over the past three years, Barkley has only enjoyed one healthy season, playing 16 games in 2022, making his second Pro Bowl appearance. He tallied 1,312 rushing yards, 338 receiving yards, and 10 total scores, but the Giants learned he couldn’t be relied on as a workhorse.

Giving Barkley 25+ touches per game is not a sustainable strategy, which led management to add multiple receivers this off-season, helping to spread out the workload and keep him healthy.

The best-case scenario would be the Giants drafting a running back in the mid-rounds, specifically because this class is notably deep at the position. Pairing Barkley with a complement who can produce immediately would not only help mitigate fatigue and injury but would set the Giants up for a future solution if Barkley ends up walking one day.

Schoen took a brilliant approach toward Barkley’s contract, drawing a line in the sand in which he’d be willing to extend him and refused to go beyond that.

Former general manager Dave Gettleman might’ve handed out a lofty contract, ignoring the simple reality that running backs age quickly due to the brutal nature of the position. For now, Bign Bllue has their star player cemented, and while they could still extend him at some point, the Giants aren’t overcommitting when there’s no need to.