Saquon Barkley

Extension Candidate: Saquon Barkley

Through two games, Saquon Barkley is the NFL’s rushing leader. Barkley’s 236 yards are obviously a big reason why the Giants have jumped out to a 2-0 start. This marks a positive development for Barkley, who lingered as a low-key trade candidate this offseason.

The Joe SchoenBrian Daboll regime inherited Barkley, who had slid from one of the best running back prospects in modern NFL history to a player whose Giants future was in doubt because of injury trouble. Barkley’s resurgence may need to continue for a bit before the new Giants front office considers extension talks, but on a team that has seen a strange receiver situation cloud its long-term outlook at that position, Barkley could fit as a second-contract piece.

It sounds like the former No. 2 overall pick will be willing to negotiate in-season with the Giants. That was his stance last year, though the early-season ankle sprain he suffered made it three straight years of injury trouble and moved a possible extension well off the radar. Barkley, 25, is now playing on a $7.22MM fifth-year option. Despite Barkley’s injury history, he dropped an early indication he would be willing to play out that option year.

Any time an athlete bets on himself and goes out there and performs at a high level, you love to see that,” Barkley said, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “Whether it’s football, whether it’s baseball, whether it’s basketball, I want all athletes to get what they deserve.”

Since the 2011 CBA introduced the fifth-year option, Barkley is just the second running back to play on it. Melvin Gordon played on the option in 2019, doing so after holding out to start that season. He left Los Angeles in free agency in 2020. With Barkley having shown a higher NFL ceiling — one sidetracked by injuries — this situation brings a bit more intrigue. The Giants have not seen one of their first-round picks play beyond five seasons with the team since 2010 first-rounder Jason Pierre-Paul.

Thanks largely to the 2017 draft class, first and second tiers have formed in the running back market. Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara secured deals at or north of $15MM per year. McCaffrey’s $16MM-AAV Panthers pact — agreed to in March 2020 — still leads the way. From July 2020 to March 2021, the second tier emerged. Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook and Aaron Jones signed deals worth between $12MM and $12.5MM per year. Nick Chubb, part of Barkley’s 2018 draft class, fell in line by signing a $12.2MM-per-year Browns extension in July 2021.

Seven members of the 2017 class, which also includes former UDFA Austin Ekeler, signed upper-echelon or midlevel second contracts with their respective teams. Chris Carson was the only one to do so after reaching free agency. Not all of these contracts have worked out. McCaffrey has battled injuries, and Carson suffered a career-ending neck injury. But most of the recent extension recipients remain on steady trajectories after being paid. This wave of payments cresting after the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and David Johnson did not justify their contracts has made for an interesting stretch.

These $12MM-$16MM-per-year deals have created a roadmap for a Barkley re-up, though it remains to be seen if the Schoen-Daboll operation views him in that way or will be one to extend a running back. The Giants are not believed to have shopped Barkley, they took trade calls on him before the draft. Barkley’s skillset would make him a candidate for a McCaffrey- or Kamara-type contract. His injury history, and perhaps McCaffrey’s post-extension health issues, could nix that reality. The talented Giants back continuing this early pace and showing the kind of form he did as a rookie (NFL-high 2,028 scrimmage yards) and when healthy in 2019 — behind shaky offensive lines in each season — could change the equation.

The Giants entering discussions with Barkley this season could allow them to lock down their top playmaker and give the injury-prone back some security. Barkley’s 2019 high ankle sprain, 2020 ACL and MCL tears and his 2021 ankle issue threw his career off course, but the team is unlikely to have a big-ticket receiver contract or a franchise-quarterback deal on its 2023 books. Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and perhaps Kadarius Toney, the way that partnership is going, have uncertain post-2022 futures in New York. Ditto Daniel Jones, who did not see his fifth-year option exercised. After entering this offseason in salary cap trouble, the Giants are projected to be in the top five in 2023 space.

If no Barkley extension occurs this year, he would be headed for free agency. A franchise tag, which CBS Sports’ Joel Corry projects to come in around $10.1MM, would then be an option for the Giants. The Steelers went to this well with Bell, twice; the second time caused quite the stir in 2018. The tag would, however, be a way for the Giants to extend this partnership without committing long-term to a player at such a volatile position. Barkley will have banked more than $38MM on his rookie contract, separating him from most modern backs. Through that lens, an extension would be less financially important for his future. Should Barkley be on a Pro Bowl pace by midseason, it would be interesting to see if he would entertain an extension in the $12MM-AAV range — especially with the cap rising again — or push this situation to the March 2023 tag deadline.

Barkley hitting free agency next year would, should he avoid a severe injury this season, place a top-tier running back in a crowded marketplace. Kareem Hunt, Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, David Montgomery and Damien Harris are among the running backs on expiring contracts. We have a long way to go before the prospect of Barkley hitting the market emerges, but his nice start to a contract year opens the door to a few possible futures. Which one will end up transpiring?

Giants Did Not Shop Saquon Barkley?

Saquon Barkley joined James Bradberry as high-profile Giants trade candidates this offseason, one in which the rebuilding team severed ties with select veterans to cut costs. This included Bradberry, released in May after a Texans trade fell through, but Barkley remains with the team.

Trade rumors involving the former Offensive Rookie of the Year swirled for a stretch earlier this year, but the Giants did not discover much of a market. The Giants may have discussed prospective Barkley trades, but Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes it is unlikely they were truly shopping the talented back (subscription required).

No offer wowed new GM Joe Schoen, and the former No. 2 overall pick is expected to play a versatile role in Brian Daboll‘s first Giants offense. Barkley is not the only New York skill-position player to be thrown into trade rumors this offseason. Kadarius Toney and Darius Slayton joined him. While the Giants do not appear prepared to unload Toney after just one year, Slayton has consistently been mentioned as a player who might not be on Big Blue’s 2022 roster.

Neither of those players has displayed a ceiling remotely close to what Barkley has, though injuries have significantly affected the Penn State product’s trajectory. A 2019 high ankle sprain, 2020 ACL and MCL tears, and more ankle trouble last season turned Barkley from being fast-tracked to a monster extension to a player whose Giants future beyond this season is very much in doubt. Barkley joins Daniel Jones in that lot, but the Giants did pick up the former’s fifth-year option (only $7.2MM) a year before declining to exercise Jones’.

Still, Barkley’s injuries and a 2021 season in which he averaged 3.7 yards per carry have obviously dropped his stock. If it becomes clear the Giants do not see a future with Barkley, an in-season trade — when teams would not have to pay his full salary, which doubles as the league’s sixth-highest running back cap number — could be in play. Of course, Barkley also has a chance to revive his value behind what could be the best offensive line with which he has played. The Giants added at least three new starters, including first-round right tackle Evan Neal and longtime Colts guard Mark Glowinski, and may have made a tremendous play-caller upgrade by hiring Daboll.

Barkley’s dominant rookie season (NFL-leading 2,028 scrimmage yards, to go along with 15 touchdowns) and the fact that he is only going into his age-25 season should keep the door open for a reasonable payday — if he can stay reasonably healthy this season. Barkley joins Kareem Hunt, Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris and Devin Singletary among the backs eligible for free agency next year. A strong 2022 would allow him to headline that class while also potentially moving the new Giants regime to consider a second contract.

Latest On Giants, Kadarius Toney

Some brake-pumping appears necessary regarding a Kadarius Toney trade. The Giants’ new regime has discussed the 2021 first-round pick with teams, but SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano tweets the team is merely listening to offers rather than shopping the young wide receiver.

The Giants are open to dealing Toney, who flashed when available as a rookie. But last year’s No. 20 overall pick missed extensive game and practice time and did not impress the team with his work habits. New York’s Joe SchoenBrian Daboll regime still views the Florida alum as a key piece on offense, with Jordan Raanan of indicating the Giants want “significant” compensation for Toney (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Teams Split On Toney’s Value]

Nothing is imminent here, with Albert Breer of noting the new Big Blue power brokers do not seem motivated to unload Toney. Instead, they want to see how an offense featuring he and Saquon Barkley looks. This was a rare sight last season, which featured both Barkley and Toney suffering injuries. The duo only played four games together in 2021.

While teams may be calling on the receiver, nothing has “come close to materializing in terms of a trade,” per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via While Vacchiano’s report indicates that the Giants are the ones who are receiving the calls, Garafolo says it’s “unclear” if the Giants initiated any trade talks. Ultimately, the reporter says it “doesn’t seem very likely” that Toney is moved any time soon.

Toney attended the start of the Giants’ offseason program Monday, and a report surfaced earlier today indicating the team is shopping Darius Slayton, who is going into a contract year. The former fifth-round pick has displayed a larger body of work, but Toney — should he manage to stay on the field — looks to have more upside. While it is noteworthy the shifty ex-Gator even landed in trade rumors, Daboll likely wants to see how the second-year receiver looks in his offense before a move transpires.

Giants Discussing Saquon Barkley, James Bradberry Trades

Both Saquon Barkley and James Bradberry have surfaced as trade candidates, though it is unclear how seriously the Giants are with those respective courses of action. It appears the team is fairly intent on moving at least one.

In pursing their goal of clearing $40MM-plus in cap space, the Giants have had discussions with multiple teams about trading Barkley and/or Bradberry, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports. However, the duo is not generating too much interest. A Day 3 choice may be the max value the Giants could net for either player, Vacchiano notes. That is unlikely to move the needle for the Giants on Barkley.

Bradberry was reported to have more value than Barkley, the latter’s reputation and dominant rookie season notwithstanding. But their current values may put the new Giants regime to key decisions. They are likely to move on from at least one of the duo, Vacchiano adds, due to cap constraints.

It would be rather strange to see Barkley unloaded, given his reduced trade value after three injury-plagued years. The former No. 2 overall pick carries just a $7.2MM cap number — down from $10MM in 2021 — on his fifth-year option. Both Barkley and Bradberry’s deals expire after the 2022 season. Leaguewide concern exists on Barkley’s health, per Vacchiano. A high ankle sprain, ACL and MCL tears and another ankle issue have felled Barkley over the past three years. The would-be superstar faces perhaps a make-or-break season in 2022.

A Bradberry swap would give the Giants $12.1MM in cap space. The ex-Panther cornerback signed a three-year, $45MM deal in 2020. Dropping Bradberry would also leave the Giants shorthanded at corner. No. 1 corners are certainly more difficult to replace than running backs.

It will be interesting to see where the Giants go here. They made multiple cuts but also reached pay-cut agreements to retain Blake Martinez and Sterling Shepard. As of Monday evening, Big Blue remains over the 2022 cap.

Giants Notes: Jones, Barkley, Engram

Giants GM Joe Schoen recently told reporters that no decision has been made with respect to QB Daniel Jones‘ fifth-year option for 2023, which must be exercised or declined by May 2. “We haven’t been around him other than a couple weeks,” Schoen said (via Mike Florio of PFT). “Again, we’re going to take our time with the process. We’re going to be around Daniel. We’re going to get the chance to see him throw and work with the guys that we have. … We’re going to be patient with that decision.”

New York is interested in signing free agent passer Mitchell Trubisky and having him compete with Jones for the starting job in 2022. Given that, and given Jones’ struggles over his first three professional seasons, it would be surprising if Schoen were to pick up Jones’ option, which is worth a fully-guaranteed $21.3MM.

Now for more from Big Blue:

  • When asked about the possibility of trading RB Saquon Barkley, Schoen did not rule it out. However, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes, Schoen would have to be floored to make a deal. Although the Giants are obviously in rebuild mode, they also want to field a competitive team and surround Jones or any other passer with enough talent to fairly evaluate their QB situation. Furthermore, Barkley’s “strong preference” is to stay with New York, and Dunleavy’s sources believe that if the Giants were to trade him now, they shouldn’t expect much more than a fourth-round pick in return.
  • Before Schoen was hired, it was reported that the Giants were unlikely to break the bank to retain tight end and pending FA Evan Engram. We have not heard anything to suggest otherwise now that Schoen is in charge of personnel, which means that Engram is poised to hit the open market. As Dunleavy tweets, some interested teams are looking to utilize Engram more as a slot receiver and are preparing proposals with that goal in mind.
  • Georgia DE Travon Walker was one of the biggest winners at the scouting combine, putting on a display that solidified his position as one of the top D-linemen in the class. The fact that he was asked to fill a variety of roles along the Bulldogs’ defensive front limited his sack production, but his athletic traits are hard to beat, and ESPN draftnik Jordan Reid believes Walker might now be a top-five choice (subscription required). Jordan Raanan of suggests that the Giants may consider Walker with their No. 5 or No. 7 overall selections (Twitter link).

Giants Open To Saquon Barkley Trade

The Giants’ new regime could be making some serious changes this offseason. When asked about the possibility of trading Saquon Barkley, GM Joe Schoen wouldn’t rule it out.

[RELATED: Giants Asking Shepard To Take Pay Cut]

I’m open to anything. … I’m not going to say yes to every deal, but I’m going to listen,” Schoen said (Twitter link via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network).

Barkley was once untouchable. Now, after a string of injuries, the Giants are at least open to dealing him. After being selected No. 2 overall in 2018, Barkley was nothing short of stellar — his historic rookie campaign included 2,028 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in a full 16-game slate. He had an equally impressive 5.4 yards per touch in 2019, but he missed three games thanks to a high ankle sprain.

Then, in 2020, he was limited to just two games before succumbing to a torn ACL. Barkley managed to play in 13 games this past year, but clearly wasn’t at 100%. He finished with just 593 yards off of 162 carries, good for just 3.7 yards per attempt.

The Giants have already exercised Barkley’s fifth-year option for 2022, but they may prefer to put those dollars elsewhere and target younger options in the draft. Meanwhile, they may be able to save money elsewhere by negotiating a new deal with wide receiver Sterling Shepard.

Latest On Giants RB Saquon Barkley

Giants running back Saquon Barkley will miss today’s matchup with the Raiders, the fourth straight game he will be forced to sit out after sustaining an ankle sprain in New York’s Week 5 loss to the Cowboys. The day after that game, head coach Joe Judge indicated that Barkley had avoided a serious injury and was considered week-to-week, but the fact that he has yet to return to the field suggests that his recovery has not gone particularly smoothly.

Indeed, Jordan Raanan of says he heard several weeks ago that Barkley’s ankle was not healing as quickly as hoped (Twitter link). On Friday, Judge declined to say whether his RB1 had suffered a setback, and Barkley himself has not spoken to the media in about a month. The Giants are on a bye next week, so Barkley’s next chance to return to the field will be in Week 11 against the Bucs.

After a stellar rookie campaign that helped to justify GM Dave Gettleman‘s decision to make Barkley the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft, things have not gone all that well for the Penn State product. An injury to his other ankle forced Barkley to miss three games in 2019, and though he still produced at a fairly high level that year, he admitted that the ailment nagged him for most of the season. Then, in 2020, ACL and MCL tears ended his season after just two games.

Despite all that, New York elected to exercise Barkley’s fifth-year option for 2022, so he will get one more chance to post a fully healthy year and to return to his 2018 form prior to becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency. In four-plus games in 2021, the 24-year-old has shown some flashes but has posted a mediocre 3.6 YPC average on 54 carries. He has caught 14 balls for 130 yards and has scored three total TDs.

In brighter news for Big Blue, WR Kenny Golladay is expected to play against the Raiders today. Golladay, the Giants’ top free agent acquisition this offseason, suffered a hyperextended knee in the same game that Barkley sustained his injury. As Raanan tweets, the knee has held up well in recent practices, and Golladay is set to return after a three-game absence.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/3/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

NFC East Notes: Giants, Gregory, Fitzpatrick

Jabrill Peppers‘ torn ACL will keep him sidelined for the rest of the 2021 campaign, and considering his expiring contract, there’s a chance his stint with the Giants has effectively come to an end. However, head coach Joe Judge kept the door open when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“Look, this guy is in a contract year, it’s something I’ve talked to him about directly,” Judge said (h/t to Josh Alper of “He’s a guy that I value a lot in this program. I’d love to have this guy going forward, I’ve told him that directly. He’s been a very good leader for us. You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him. I think that’s very important. He’s a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he’s a very important part of our program.”

The safety started five of his six games this season, compiling 29 tackles and one sack. Considering Peppers’ contract status, his reduced playing time, and continued trade rumblings, there was a chance the veteran would be traded prior to his injury. The ACL injury certainly changed things, and Peppers could pursue a comeback with his current team.

More notes out of the NFC East…

  • With the Giants sitting at 2-5, it wouldn’t be a surprise if several Giants veterans end up hitting the trade block. Ralph Vacchiano of explored which players could be on the move, with tight end Evan Engram, cornerback James Bradberry, guard Will Hernandez, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and offensive tackle Nate Solder earning spots on the list. Vacchiano even goes as far as to list running back Saquon Barkley as a potential trade candidate, but he can’t envision the Giants receiving a haul that would convince them to bail on the former second-overall pick.
  • Randy Gregory has dealt with his fair share of suspensions, but the former Cowboys second-round pick followed an impressive 2020 campaign with an even better start to the 2021 season. In five games (four starts), Gregory has collected four sacks. The 28-year-old will hit free agency following the 2021 season, but David Moore, Calvin Watkins, and Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News all believe that the defensive end will be back next season. Moore notes that the team wouldn’t have held on to Gregory for all these years if they didn’t plan on a long-term pact, while Watkins cautions that the franchise tag could prove to be a risky move considering Gregory’s limited track record.
  • There was once some hope that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be back by now, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that Washington Football Team will have to wait a bit longer. The 38-year-old is still weeks away from returning, with Week 10 being the earliest possible return for the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation back in September, forcing Taylor Heinicke into the lineup.

Giants’ Daniel Jones To Start In Week 6

FRIDAY: Jones cleared the protocol Friday. He is no longer on the Giants’ injury report and is set to make his return against the Rams this week.

The third-year quarterback will also have Sterling Shepard available. After missing two weeks with a hamstring injury, Shepard is good to go for Sunday. The injuries Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay sustained against Dallas will shelve them against Los Angeles, however. The team has listed Kadarius Toney and Darius Slayton as questionable for Week 6. Toney managed three limited practices this week, making him a reasonable bet to play.

THURSDAY: Despite getting knocked out of last weekend’s loss to the Cowboys with a concussion, Daniel Jones could be on the field for Sunday’s game against the Rams. Coach Joe Judge told reporters that his starting QB is “on track with everything” as he looks to clear concussion protocol (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan).

Jones completed five of his 13 pass attempts before exiting Sunday’s loss. Following a helmet-to-helmet hit, Jones stumbled off the field before getting carted to the locker room. Jones is currently in concussion protocol, and he was ruled out of practice on Wednesday. However, he was seen participating in work outs on a side field.

That would seemingly open the door to Jones clearing concussion protocol and playing on Sunday. Even if the QB doesn’t see the field this week at practice, Judge indicated that his starter could still be in the lineup against Los Angeles (per Raanan).

The former first-round pick has had an unremarkable start to the 2021 campaign, completing 64.3-percent of his passes for 1,282 yards, four touchdowns, and only one interception. He’s also added another 197 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. If the 24-year-old isn’t able to play this weekend, Mike Glennon would be under center for the Giants. The veteran made his first appearance of the season in Week 5, completing 16 of his 25 pass attempts for 196 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.