Giants Open To Saquon Barkley Extension During Season

Dave Gettleman has come around on the prospect of a Saquon Barkley extension in 2021. The fourth-year Giants GM is now open to the prospect of hammering out a deal with the fourth-year running back during the season.

Barkley became eligible for a new deal in January, but his knee rehab has obviously clouded such prospects. The former Offensive Rookie of the Year, however, continues to progress back to full strength. Should the 24-year-old back show his previous form, he would obviously make sense as an extension candidate.

I think that it depends upon the guy. I think it depends on where the team is at. I used to feel like it was a bad idea, but not so much [now],” Gettleman said of in-season extensions, via the New York Post’s Zach Braziller. “Have I changed my idea on that? Yes. I’m a lot more flexible on that.”

[RELATED: Barkley Not Focused On Next Contract] 

John Mara said in March the Giants were not in any hurry to extend Barkley, though the owner added he wanted the talented back to be a Giant for life. Barkley produced one of the best rookie seasons by a ball carrier in NFL history three years ago but suffered a high ankle sprain in 2019 and saw his September 2020 knee injury (ACL and MCL tears, with meniscus damage) stall his career. But Barkley came off the active/PUP list last week and went through his first seven-on-seven session Tuesday, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes. While Barkley is not slated to participate in team drills during the Giants’ joint practices with the Browns, the team’s cautious plan with its lead back is thus far working.

You need to see him back on the field producing, which we expect that to be the case. Our medical people feel very good about where he’s at right now,” Mara said. “I like what I’ve seen from him out on the field. Hopefully [an extension] will be an easy decision for us as well.”

Given his health history and the nature of the running back position, Barkley may want to lock in high-end money as soon as possible. Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin CookJoe Mixon and now Nick Chubb received extensions before their fourth seasons. Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones each signed after their fourth years. This group formed a new running back market, with average salaries ranging from $12-$16MM. And it appears the Giants are OK with Barkley joining this club in-season, provided he shows enough early in the campaign. Of course, Barkley completing a bounce-back year would set him up to potentially sign a market-topping extension in 2022. McCaffrey’s $16MM-per-year deal still leads the pack.

The Giants picking the Penn State product second overall would naturally make them eager to lock in a long-term partnership, and the cap being set to spike toward $210MM next year bodes well for extension candidates. Barkley is set to make just $850K in base salary this season, and his fifth-year option came in at only $7.22MM.

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