Saquon Barkley

Texans Offered Saquon Barkley Over $11MM Per Year; Team Pursued Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift

With C.J. Stroud locked into rookie-deal money through at least 2025, the Texans have a rare opportunity. They can build around a low-cost quarterback who showed star potential as a rookie. The team made some moves to capitalize this offseason, deviating from a conservative first three years — with regards to free agency — under Nick Caserio.

The Texans added the likes of Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Azeez Al-Shaair and Denico Autry. Houston hoped to bring in a higher-salary target at running back as well, but mutual interest between the team and Saquon Barkley did not produce a deal. Despite rostering Jalen Hurts on a $51MM-per-year contract, the Eagles landed Barkley on a three-year, $37.75MM deal that includes $26MM guaranteed at signing. Barkley sits as the NFL’s fourth-highest-paid RB, cashing in after Giants negotiations produced a lesser offer and a franchise tag last summer.

Houston was willing to go into this neighborhood for Barkley, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who reports the team offered the two-time Pro Bowler a three-year deal worth just north of $33MM. The AAV here checks in just south of Barkley’s $12.58MM Philly number, but given the guarantee at signing the Eagles authorized, it is unsurprising the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year made the choice he did.

The wave of RB contracts authorized in the early 2020s have led to a few high-profile releases, pay cuts or trades. Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon and Derrick Henry are no longer attached to eight-figure-per-year accords. The Browns slashed Nick Chubb‘s pay last month, as the perennial Pro Bowler is coming off two knee surgeries, and Josh Jacobs‘ Packers deal only includes $12.5MM guaranteed at signing. Given the state of the RB position, Barkley did well to score the guarantee did he going into his seventh season.

Barkley, 27, said he was drawn to the Texans before considering the Eagles. But the Penn State alum certainly has Pennsylvania ties; much of his family is from the area. Although the Texans had the Eagles beat for cap space, they stood down on Barkley. The team soon gave Hunter a near-fully guaranteed contract and made an interesting commitment to Mixon. Just before the Bengals were set to release their seven-year starter, the Texans agreed to send a seventh-round pick for the veteran back. Mixon soon agreed to new terms with the Texans — two years, $19.75MM ($13MM guaranteed).

The Texans ended up giving Mixon a better deal than they proposed Devin Singletary, per Wilson, who adds the team offered its primary 2023 starter a contract averaging $4MM per year. Singletary agreed to a three-year, $16.5MM deal (with $9.5MM fully guaranteed) to reunite with Brian Daboll in New York.

As a Wilson pre-free agency report suggested, the Texans did discuss terms with Tony Pollard and D’Andre Swift. Pollard ended up with the Titans (three years, $21.75MM) and Swift became the first UFA from this year’s class to commit to a team, signing a three-year, $24MM deal with the Bears.

Only Barkley and Swift ($14MM) scored more fully guaranteed money among this year’s free agent RBs than Mixon, who is coming off his fourth 1,000-yard rushing season but has 1,854 career touches — third-most among active backs. Charged with elevating a Texans rushing attack that ranked 22nd last season, Mixon is going into his age-28 slate.

The Texans will count on Mixon, but Caserio said (via SI.com’s Coty M. Davis) Dameon Pierce — who followed up an impressive rookie season with a down 2023 — remains a “big part” of the team’s 2024 plan. The 2022 fourth-rounder averaged just 2.9 yards per carry last season, seeing Singletary usurp him as the Texans’ lead back down the stretch. The younger back will have a chance to rebound, albeit in a now-Mixon-fronted backfield.

Saquon Barkley Addresses Texans Interest, Free Agent Offers

Saquon Barkley recently appeared on the New Heights podcast with now-retired Eagles center Jason Kelce and his brother Travis. He spoke about his free agent period, which ultimately led to a Philadelphia agreement including $26MM fully guaranteed.

Barkley confirmed, via Matt Ehaly of the New York Post, the Texans were the first team he was drawn to with the new league year approaching. That matches a report from the same time, and Barkley noted he and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud communicated about a potential partnership. After interest from the Eagles picked up, though, the two-time Pro Bowler’s attention began to shift.

“As it got closer, and you start hearing word and Philly, I probably never imagined myself playing for Philly six years ago, but I get to come back to Pennsylvania,” Barkley said. “My family is from Pennsylvania, my lady, our kids, grandmas all that is from Pennsylvania and we’re already close and we can even get to get closer and get a chance to compete. I got to admire [the Eagles] from afar, admire what he was able to build over there and get to be part of that culture. It was a no-brainer for me.”

Philadelphia had interest in retaining 2023 starter D’Andre Swift, but his market became more lucrative than expected. That led the Eagles to prioritize Barkley, and the sides were able to agree to a three-year, $37.75MM pact on the second day of the negotiating window. The NFL has launched a tampering investigation into the matter, but no developments on that front have emerged.

Barkley also noted that four teams (the Giants not being among them) made a formal offer. The Texans – a team which ultimately traded for Joe Mixon to take the place of Devin Singletary – were a “serious suitor,” as Ehaly notes. In the end, though, Barkley preferred to return to the state of his decorated college career amidst solid interest from a shortlist of suitors.

“I had a good bit of teams that really was like all about me coming there and with the price point being up there,” the Penn State alum added. “I wanted to get what I deserved that I thought was fair for me to take care of me and my family. That’s the goal you want to get to, that second contract. “When I had my offers in place, I was like, ‘Alright, what best fits me? Where can I go and have the best opportunity to win?’… When you put all the pieces together, it made sense to be in Philly.”

D’Andre Swift Price Led Eagles To Saquon Barkley Pivot

Prior to last week’s Saquon Barkley signing, it had been a while since the Eagles sprang for an upper-echelon running back contract. The team did pay up for DeMarco Murray in 2015, but that came during the year Howie Roseman found himself demoted in favor of Chip Kelly. The most recent Roseman-directed RB payment of note came in 2012, when the team gave LeSean McCoy a five-year, $45MM extension.

Illustrating where running back value has gone over the past 12 years, the Eagles now have Barkley tied to a three-year, $37.75MM contract. Barkley’s bet on himself at the franchise tag deadline paid off, with the Eagles giving him $26MM fully guaranteed. That tops the Giants’ 2023 offer and will now be tacked onto the $10.1MM he earned on the franchise tag.

[RELATED: NFL Investigating Eagles, Falcons For Tampering]

Barkley coming out of this grim RB market on top comes after D’Andre Swift became the first commit during the legal tampering period. The Bears gave the 2023 Eagles starter a three-year, $24MM deal that McLane notes features $15.28MM fully guaranteed. That represents a nice pickup for Swift, who slightly outperformed Miles Sanders‘ 2023 guarantee number ($13MM).

Although the Eagles were not interested in keeping Sanders, they monitored the Swift market. However, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane indicates the team pivoted as the Swift market moved outside of where it valued the 2023 Pro Bowler.

This meant giving more money to Barkley, but it is clear the Eagles viewed the gap between the two RB talents as wide. The Eagles ranked first in rushing yards before contact last season and 32nd post-contact, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, who notes that played into the team’s decision with Barkley. The two-time Giants Pro Bowler is one of six RBs with over 1,000 yards after contact over the past two seasons. Next Gen Stats ranked Swift in the bottom 10 in terms of rushing yards over expected (minus-65), with McLane adding issues in pass protection were also part of the Eagles’ valuation.

The Eagles also felt the Giants underutilized Barkley in the passing game. Barkley himself expressed this stance around the time of last year’s franchise tag deadline. In the years following Pat Shurmur‘s exit, Barkley did not make a major statistical impact as a receiver. He has not eclipsed 350 receiving yards in a season since 2019. During his 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, the former No. 2 overall pick totaled 721 yards through the air. That said, the Eagles have not used backs much in the passing game since committing to Jalen Hurts as their starter. A productive receiver at points in Detroit, Swift totaled just 214 receiving yards in 17 games last season.

Swift, 25, does feature far less wear and tear compared to Barkley, 27; that undoubtedly played into the Bears’ decision to bring in the ex-Lions second-rounder. Swift sits at 593 career carries; Barkley exited 2023 with 1,201. Considering the Eagle rushing attack’s success with talents like Sanders and Swift at the forefront, it will be interesting to see how Barkley fares behind a top-tier offensive line — a luxury he never enjoyed with the Giants.

The Eagles have gone so far as to guarantee a bit of Barkley’s 2026 salary. Although the bulk of Barkley’s final year ($12MM) is nonguaranteed, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero notes $1.5MM of that amount is locked in at signing. An additional $1MM will become guaranteed that March, giving the Eagles an out window two years down the road.

Their Barkley-based deviation at running back will still make their 2024 and ’25 approaches fascinating. Barkley’s showing on this contract will also be important through a macro lens at a position that has taken a slew of value hits — many coming in 2023 — over the past several years.

NFL Investigating Eagles, Falcons For Potential Tampering

Although the NFL calls its unofficial free agency the legal tampering period, the league is looking into whether two teams went too far during this year’s window. The Eagles and Falcons are under investigation, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano tweets.

The league is looking into potential violations from these teams during their respective Saquon Barkley and Kirk Cousins negotiations. Penn State coach James Franklin, who coached Barkley in college, said GM Howie Roseman spoke directly with the running back prior to the new league year. Teams are not permitted to speak directly with players during the tampering period unless they are self-represented; the Eagles have denied any violation occurred, ESPN.com’s Tim McManus notes.

Cousins said Wednesday night he spoke with the Falcons’ trainer during the tampering window, which is not permitted under league rules. While tampering ahead of the days that comprise the legal tampering period happens annually, as some deals come to pass rather quickly once the signing window opens. But the league is investigating these two high-profile team changes. Fines or potential loss of draft picks can come out of tampering violations.

For him now to come back and be able to play within the state, in Philadelphia, he said that was one of the first things that Howie said to him on the phone as part of his sales pitch to him was not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that but obviously the connection with Penn State and the fan base as well,” Franklin said (via McManus) of Barkley’s Eagles talks.

As of Thursday morning, the Giants had not contacted the league about tampering, per McManus. By most accounts, the Giants were prepared to move on from the two-time Pro Bowler. While New York did add a veteran replacement in Devin Singletary, the ex-Brian Daboll Bills charge comes cheaper than Barkley, who signed a three-year, $37.75MM deal with $26MM guaranteed at signing. The Vikings did make a more concerted effort to retain Cousins, but the Falcons came in with a big offer — four years, $180MM with a $100MM practical guarantee — to lure him out of Minneapolis.

Rehabbing a torn Achilles sustained in late October, Cousins wants to be ready for the Falcons’ summer workouts. Falcons buzz began building coming out of the Combine, which often serves as a preview of the market. After battling uphill against Cousins during negotiations for years, the Vikings held tight against the kind of guarantee the Falcons are authorizing. As he prepares to move to his wife’s hometown, the 35-year-old passer will be working with the Falcons’ medical staff soon. The NFL will look into whether the Falcons’ staff violated tampering policies during this high-profile recruitment.

Eagles, RB Saquon Barkley Agree To Deal

Saquon Barkley will indeed be making a move inside the NFC East as he begins his post-Giants career. The Eagles have agreed to terms with Barkley on a three-year, $37.75MM contract featuring $26MM fully guaranteed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

A number of suitors have been floated as Barkley suitors in the build-up to free agency. A new Giants arrangement was long thought to be a possibility, but for some time a trip to free agency seemed to be on deck. Barkley and the Eagles were believed to have a mutual interest, so this news comes as little surprise. Jordan Shultz of Bleacher Report adds the Bears and Texans were finalists for the Penn State product.

Still, the move is of course a noteworthy one as it ensures Barkley will play against his former team twice per season. The former No. 2 pick was one of three running backs who received the franchise tag (valued at $10.1MM) last offseason. A second tag was an option for New York, although a multi-year deal was believed to be a consideration as well for general manager Joe Schoen. As recent reports indicated (and Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post confirms), however, the Giants did not make an offer this offseason.

Free to pursue other options, Barkley managed to secure a guarantee figure higher than what he would have landed playing on consecutive tags. Term – like with all backs in this year’s market – was no doubt a consideration for both team and player, but at age 27 this represents a notable commitment in terms of length for Barkley. He will take the place of D’Andre Swift, who has a deal in place with the Bears.

Barkley has recorded at least 1,200 scrimmage yards four times in his six-year career, one which has been marred by injuries at times. He has been a focal point on offense throughout his tenure, though, and questions will now be raised about the Daniel Jones-led Giants’ ability to replicate Barkley’s production moving forward. Even with the numerous deals worked out at the RB spot, plenty of veterans are still on the market as potential Barkley replacements.

The Eagles will be looking to avoid a repeat of last year’s late-season collapse. A strong commitment to the run game could be an element of that effort, one which in general will be overseen by new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Increased usage of running backs in the passing game could be in the cards moving forward, but even if not Philadelphia will have a dynamic option in the backfield.

Texans Likely To Pursue Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift; Team Looking To Retain Sheldon Rankins, Steven Nelson

Nick Caserio has bargain-shopped at running back since taking over. Veterans Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead and Devin Singletary have been among the low-cost options to stop through Houston during the GM’s three-year tenure. The team looks to be aiming a bit higher this year, though it is unclear how much higher.

Saquon Barkley-Texans interest surfaced recently, and KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson reiterates the Giants running back’s reciprocated interest in a Houston deal. The Texans, however, are expected to pursue several running backs; Tony Pollard and D’Andre Swift are among the targets, according to Wilson.

Pollard and Swift are unlikely to cost what Barkley will. The two-time Giants Pro Bowler is expected to be this year’s most expensive back, and his market could well surpass $10MM per year. That may be too rich for the Giants, who had been expected to make an offer but had not done so as of this week. Barkley’s contract will provide a key update on modern RB value, whereas Pollard and Swift figure to be more affordable.

While Barkley had banked more than $48MM between his rookie contract and a 2023 franchise tag, Pollard saw his value hindered by the Cowboys’ tag decision last year. Pollard made just more than $3MM on his rookie deal and $10.1MM on the tag. Based on his 2022 Pro Bowl showing, the former fourth-round pick would have generated a better market last year. Pollard was less impressive as the Cowboys’ go-to back. He produced fewer scrimmage yards (1,316) than in 2022 and saw his yards-per-carry number crater from 5.2 to 4.0 despite Dallas rolling out a three-All-Pro O-line. Still, Pollard has been a versatile player and a key cog in an explosive Dallas offense; as of Sunday, the Cowboys are also not ruling out another agreement with their dual-threat performer.

Swift has also shown ability as a receiver and runner, impressing through the air in Detroit while being more of a ground option in Philadelphia. Following a trade from the Lions last year, Swift seized the Eagles’ starting job in Week 2 and did not miss any games. That marked new territory for Swift, who had battled through nagging injuries in Detroit. Swift posted his first 1,000-yard rushing season — yes, with a top-tier Eagles O-line — and earned a Pro Bowl invite. At 25, he is also two years younger than Pollard.

Singletary leapfrogged Dameon Pierce on Houston’s depth chart last season, establishing new career-high marks in carries (216) and rushing yards (898). The ex-Bills third-rounder, who signed for just $1.77MM last year, displayed his usual durability in helping the Texans to the playoffs. He is expected to generate outside interest, with Wilson adding it is not a lock the 5-foot-7 back returns. Though, the former third-round pick expressed interest in staying near the end of the season. The Texans were believed to share that interest, but they look to have expanded their options as RBs are set to flood the market.

The Texans are interested in bringing back both Sheldon Rankins and Steven Nelson, Wilson adds. Rankins signed a one-year, $9.75MM deal in 2023, coming over from the Jets, who were interested in re-signing him. The former Saints first-rounder ranked seventh among interior D-linemen in pass rush win rate, totaling six sacks — his most since 2018 — and 10 QB hits. Rankins’ fit could certainly depend on how long the Texans stay in the Christian Wilkins sweepstakes.

Nelson has been a Texans CB starter for the past two years. Nelson intercepted a career-high four passes; he added a pick-six against Joe Flacco in the team’s wild-card win. Nelson turned 31 earlier this year, which should limit his market. Though, most of the top CBs on this year’s market are in their late 20s or early 30s.

Denzel Perryman would like to be part of the Texans’ 2024 equation, Wilson adds. His market did not produce much last year, however; the ex-Chargers second-rounder started 11 games and made 76 tackles. The Texans will need to make one move at linebacker, at least, with Blake Cashman also on the doorstep of free agency. Azeez Al-Shaair, who played for DeMeco Ryans in San Francisco, also has interest in coming to Houston.

Chargers, Ravens, Bears Among “Serious Suitors” For Saquon Barkley

Running back Saquon Barkley is one of the highest-profile free agents in this year’s cycle, and there have been plenty of rumors concerning his next destination already. Some of those rumors may be solidifying into something more concrete.

Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com spoke with more than a dozen managers, executives, coaches, scouts, and agents, and while there was of course some variation in their responses, most expected that Barkley would land a contract worth $10MM per year, with a three-year, $30MM pact a seemingly likely outcome.

Given the notoriously stagnant running back market, it is fair to wonder whether any team would be willing to cough up that kind of money to an RB with a concering injury history who is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.9 YPC rate. However, the consensus among Raanan’s sources was that Barkley is good enough to warrant an eight-figure-per-year deal, with one pro personnel director saying, “if he was in San Francisco, he would be Christian McCaffrey. He hasn’t had an offensive line, ever, in New York.”

So, while Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reported that the Giants are among the teams that do not see value in authorizing a $10MM+ AAV for a running back, it seems there will be at least one other club willing to make that kind of commitment for a player with Barkley’s ability. Per Raanan, the Chargers, Ravens, and Bears are among the most serious suitors for Barkley’s services.

The Chargers are something of a curious fit here. After all, the cap-strapped outfit is allowing its own multi-threat RB, Austin Ekeler, test the market and is reportedly willing to entertain trades for some of its best players in order to alleviate its salary cap issues.

The Ravens are more of a logical suitor. Previous reports have suggested the team will prioritize a running back addition, and given the importance of the ground game to Baltimore’s offensive attack, a notable contract for an RB is more justifiable for the Ravens than it would be for many teams. That is especially true in light of the fact that Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell — who suffered an ACL tear in Week 15 — are the only two backs currently under club control.

The Bears, meanwhile, are likely to trade quarterback Justin Fields and draft Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick. Having a QB1 on a rookie contract affords a team luxuries that it might not otherwise enjoy, and a splurge for a running back who is also adept as a receiver and who can therefore take the pressure off a young signal-caller in multiple ways makes plenty of sense.

While recent reports hinting at a Barkley-Eagles marriage were intriguing because of Philadelphia’s intra-divisional rivalry with the Giants, Raanan says neither the Eagles nor the Cowboys, another NFC East foe, are likely to meet Barkley’s asking price. Both of those teams may have RB needs, but they both seem prepared to fill those needs via a different tier of the market. Dan Graziano of ESPN.com agrees that Dallas will unlikely get involved in the Barkley sweepstakes unless he is willing to settle for a $5MM-$6MM AAV, though a Tony Pollard re-up remains in play (subscription required).

A February report indicated that the Texans were Barkley’s preferred destination. With respect to Houston’s involvement, Raanan merely writes that the club is rumored to have interest.

Mutual Interest Between Eagles, Saquon Barkley?

The long list of running backs on track for free agency next week is headlined by Saquon Barkley. A departure from the Giants is a distinct possibility, but he may still find himself playing in the NFC East in 2024.

[RELATED: Giants Have Not Submitted Offer To Saquon Barkley]

The Eagles have an interest in signing the two-time Pro Bowler, per Howard Eskin of 94 WIP. That interest is reciprocated by Barkley himself, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post adds. Philadelphia could be in the market for a new lead running back in free agency if D’Andre Swift departs.

The latter was acquired via trade from the Lions during last year’s draft, and he enjoyed a career year while leading the Eagles’ RB depth chart. Swift topped 1,000 rushing yards for the first time and received a Pro Bowl invite. Given his age (25), he could be in store for a better market than most other, older backs who will be available once the new league year begins. Barkley has far more in the way of pedigree given his past production, though, and he could manage to secure more guaranteed money than most (or any) other backs in 2024.

The Eagles are positioned to be spenders at a few positions in free agency, as they currently have just under $42MM in cap space. Running backs have seen their collective value stagnate over time, and signs continue to point in that direction given the crop of veteran players who will be on the market simultaneously. Still, Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano reports the Eagles are believed to be willing to “take a swing” at Barkley, a move which would represent a major move on offense.

Philadelphia’s late-season collapse was due in large part to defensive deficiencies, but inconsistency on the other side of the ball was often related to struggles in the ground game. Swift is joined by Boston Scott and Rashaad Penny as pending free agents, so the RB room could look much different for the Eagles in short order. Barkley would take on primary rushing responsibilities with a deal and also serve the role of complementary pass-catcher in an offense which could stand to add more targets at the running back spot.

News of Barkley-Eagles interest is interesting on a number of levels, not the least of which being the potential of the 27-year-old making an intra-divisional move. However, it is also notable given the recent report which tapped the Texans as Barkley’s preferred destination. In any case, his market will be worth watching closely when free agency begins, as will the Eagles’ willingness to make a splashy addition at the position.

Giants Have Not Made Saquon Barkley Offer In Offseason

Saquon Barkley-Giants extension talks began in November 2022 and memorably ran up to the July 2023 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals. Not much activity has transpired this offseason.

Although the Giants met with Barkley at the Combine and are believed to be planning to make an offer to retain their Pro Bowl running back, the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy reports the team has not submitted one this offseason. The Giants will lose their exclusive negotiating rights with Barkley at 11am CT on Monday, when the legal tampering period begins.

[RELATED: Darren Waller Considering Retirement]

This year’s legal tampering period will be Barkley’s first chance to negotiate with a team other than the Giants since they drafted him second overall in 2018. The Giants passed on franchise-tagging Barkley a second time, at a rate just more than $12MM, and may be ready to bid farewell to the six-year starter. While this is a crowded free agent running back class, Barkley is expected to draw the most attention. Barkley reaching the tampering period unsigned obviously increases the chances he will play elsewhere in 2024.

The Giants could not resume Barkley negotiations until after the regular season ended, but they have now had nearly two months to make another offer. Not doing so runs in stark contrast to last year, when they frantically attempted to retain both Barkley and Daniel Jones. The team ended up re-signing Jones and tagging Barkley minutes before last March’s tag application deadline. It is worth wondering the alternate reality of what would have played out if the team had reversed those moves, as Jones may be going into his last season as Giant — as persistent rumors about the team drafting a QB emerge.

No signs exist the Giants will ramp up talks at the 11th hour, Dunleavy adds, with the team potentially ready to let Barkley see what kind of offers come on the open market. GM Joe Schoen said a second tag was a consideration, but a rumor also emerged last month that the team was leery of Barkley’s age (27) and making another notable commitment. That said, the Giants are believed to have offered Barkley a deal including $22MM guaranteed last summer. The team reducing the offer’s AAV below $12MM, however, helped influence the former Offensive Rookie of the Year to pass. The Giants passed on trade interest at the deadline, despite a poor start. That sets the stage for this free agency foray.

Many backs will be available for the Giants in free agency. Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, D’Andre Swift and Gus Edwards are ticketed for free agency in one of the best RB classes in the free agency era. Devin Singletary, who played in Brian Daboll’s offense for three seasons in Buffalo, also could appeal to the Giants at a lower cost. With Barkley likely the most expensive player in this crowded group, the Giants may be ready to add one of the other vets at a reduced rate.

It is possible the Giants will lose both Barkley and Xavier McKinney next week. The team did not use the transition tag on McKinney. Kyle Dugger‘s transition tag may have played a role. With Dugger tagged, McKinney naturally becomes a more attractive piece in free agency. The Giants would not have been entitled to any compensation if McKinney signed an offer sheet they did not match. Had the Giants transition-tagged McKinney, they also would not have been entitled to a 2025 compensatory pick if they did not match an offer sheet, as CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones points out. Transition-tagged players no longer count toward the compensatory formula.

Giants Will Not Tag Saquon Barkley

Giants general manager Joe Schoen has left the door open to a second Saquon Barkley franchise tag being used this offseason. That will not be the case, however; New York will elect not to tag Barkley, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

This represents the expected outcome, as a free agent spell has long been on the horizon for Barkley. The former No. 2 pick has played out his rookie contract (including the fifth-year option) as well as a 2023 franchise tag during his six years in New York. For the first time, though, he will be able to test the market. A deal keeping him with the Giants after doing so remains in the cards, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson confirms.

A second Barkley tag would have checked in at a cost of $12.1MM. Using it would have prevented the franchise (or, perhaps more likely, transition) tag being applied to safety Xavier McKinney. Teams are free to use one tag in any given offseason, but not both. McKinney receiving the transition tag remains a “very strong possibility,” according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.

That route has been floated as a potential path for New York to keep the latter, who profiles as a higher priority given his age and the lack of high-end safeties set to reach free agency. Paying greater attention to McKinney will allow New York to avoid seeing a safety starter depart in free agency as Julian Love did in 2023. Talks on a long-term McKinney agreement are ongoing.

Barkley is on track to headline the list of available running backs, one which is notably long. Fellow 2023 tag recipients Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard are also likely to reach the market, as are Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins. Of those, ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes Barkley is the likeliest to reach the $10MM-per-year mark on a new contract. Doing so will be difficult, though, given the state of the RB market in general and the bulk of available options this offseason in particular. Barkley, like Jacobs and Pollard, did not help his case for a lucrative pact during the 2023 season.

The Giants came close to an agreement with Barkley last offseason, with guaranteed money coming up as the main sticking point. That will likely be the case again as he enters his age-27 season. New York’s offense will (at least temporarily) include a major hole at the RB spot if Barkley departs, but that is a risk the team is formally prepared to run.