Giants, Saquon Barkley Were Close To Deal

Saquon Barkley headlined the list of running backs who were unable to negotiate a long-term deal ahead of yesterday’s deadline, leaving them to play out the season on the franchise tag. Talks between he and the Giants nearly produced an agreement.

The two parties came within roughly $1-$2MM of reaching an agreement on the matter of both annual compensation and guaranteed money, as detailed by Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post and corroborated (on Twitter) by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The Giants’ final offer made in advance of the deadline was a three-year contract with an AAV of between $11MM and $11.5MM and $22-23MM in guarantees, per Dunleavy.

Barkley and the Giants had engaged in few contract talks in the weeks leading up to yesterday, but they circled back in an effort to come to terms. Given their inability to bridge the relatively small gap which existed – Dunleavy adds that both parties felt they had conceded as much as they could – the 26-year-old is now faced with the proposition of earning $10.1MM on the tag this season or sitting out regular season games and costing himself $560K per week in the process.

At the trade deadline in the 2022 season, Barkley seemed to a higher priority for the Giants than quarterback Daniel Jones. It was the latter who was the preferred target of a long-term deal by March, however, and the team’s ability to come to terms on a contract just before the deadline to apply tags allowed them to use it on Barkley. That shifted leverage towards New York, and the team faced little pressure to offer a lucrative package of salary and guarantees given the presence of the tag and the wider landscape of the RB market. Dunleavy does note, on the other hand, that “at least six teams” would have made a push to sign Barkley in free agency, had that become a possibility.

The Giants were unwilling – at least, right up until the deadline – to reach or surpass the $22MM mark in guarantees, a crucial figure in negotiations. Barkley (along with the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs and the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard) would earn just over $22MM by playing on franchise tags this year and next, so a long-term offer above that point would have been needed for a deal to be plausible. Upping the guarantees included lowering the AAV in the Barkley case, though, leaving the sides at an impasse.

The increasingly public nature of negotiations left the two-time Pro Bowler frustrated with this process, and attention will now turn to his willingness (or lack thereof) to participate in training camp in the build-up to his sixth season in the Big Apple. The team will face considerable expectations given last year’s surprising success, and Barkley will again be counted on as a focal point of New York’s offense. How the season dictates his financial market ahead of 2024 will be a major storyline to follow.

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