New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley is an impending free agent this offseason, following a dominant 2022 season that saw him post a career-high 1,312 rushing yards. Barkley was the star of the Giants’ offense this season and he is looking to cash in on his success with a long-term extension this offseason.
Barkley has made it clear he would “love to be a Giant for life,” but the two sides will need to negotiate a new contract to make that happen. With the Giants and Saquon Barkley reportedly having some distance from one another in contract negotiations, the newly-announced franchise tag numbers have become a relevant part of the conversation.
Why the Giants should franchise tag Saquon Barkley
The NFL released the official salary cap and franchise tag figures for the 2023 season this week. The 2023 salary cap will increase to a record of $224.8 million this season (Tom Pelissero). In addition to setting the new salary cap, the NFL also informed teams of the official franchise tag numbers. For running backs, the franchise tag is now officially valued at $10,091,000 (Albert Breer).
This number is relevant for the New York Giants as superstar running back Saquon Barkley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Barkley and the Giants began contract negotiations mid-season, but they still have plenty of work to do before they come to an agreement. Saquon reportedly rejected the Giants’ initial contract offer valued at around $12 million per season. The Giants do not seem eager to raise that price just yet, which could lead to them placing the franchise tag on Barkley.
The Giants could tag Barkley at $10.1 million, ensuring he is under contract for the 2023 season. The franchise tag’s value, however, is well short of the desired $14-16 million that Barkley is seeking long-term.
“I think it would upset anybody,” Saquon Barkley said when asked about whether he would be upset if the Giants franchise tagged him (The New York Post).
Placing the franchise tag on Saquon Barkley would be the first step toward negotiating a new, long-term deal. The Giants will benefit from the guarantee of having Barkley under contract for 2023 (unless they decided to rescind the tag, making Saquon an unrestricted free agent). Barkley, however, does not seem keen on the idea of playing on the franchise tag and could potentially hold out until an extension agreement is reached.
The Giants could place the exclusive franchise tag on Saquon Barkley, taking away his ability to negotiate with any other teams and allowing the two sides to focus on an extension. Considering the distance between Barkley and the Giants in negotiations, it would be wise for the Giants to apply the franchise tag ahead of free agency to ensure that their star running back does not become an unrestricted free agent. Re-signing Saquon Barkley will be one of the Giants’ top priorities this offseason.