Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley Suffers Ankle Sprain; Giants RB Facing Multi-Week Absence

SEPTEMBER 21: While previous reports indicated the contrary, Barkley confirmed tonight that he did indeed suffer a high ankle sprain, per Thursday Night Football’s Taylor Rooks (h/t Pat Leonard of New York Daily News).

The running back admitted that his injury isn’t as serious as it could have been, and he said that his absence from tonight’s game was more due to pain tolerance. Barkley also pointed out that New York’s next game is in 11 days, so he’ll have some extra time to get right before Week 4. While Barkley wouldn’t guarantee only a one-game absence, it certainly sounds like he’s leaving that door open.

SEPTEMBER 20: Although Brian Daboll stopped short of ruling out Barkley earlier this week, the Giants have done so Wednesday. Barkley will at least miss one 49ers game, but Jeremy Fowler of confirms the sixth-year veteran is not battling a high ankle sprain. That stands to shorten his time away.

The Giants will also be without Andrew Thomas for a second straight game, and left guard Ben Bredeson‘s concussion will keep him out of Big Blue’s Thursday-night tilt. Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari will also be down for the Giants.

SEPTEMBER 18: Saquon Barkley was sidelined for the final offensive play of the Giants’ Week 2 comeback victory, and it was feared after the game he would be dealing with a serious ankle injury. The worst-case scenario has been avoided, but he is nevertheless set to miss time.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that an MRI revealed an “ordinary” ankle sprain for the Pro Bowl back. As a result, Barkley is expected to miss roughly three weeks. At a minimum, that will keep him sidelined for the team’s upcoming Thursday night contest against the 49ers.

Barkley played all but one snap in New York’s surprise win against the Cardinals, proving his importance to the team’s offense. Given his heavy workload, replacing him will be a tall order for the Giants as they look to rebound from the struggles suffered in the first six quarters of their season. That task will fall to Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and Eric Gray.

After initially representing the team’s higher priority with respect to a long-term extension, Barkley saw quarterback Daniel Jones ink a four-year, $160MM pact in March. That allowed the Giants to use the franchise tag on the former No. 2 pick, though extension talks continued through to the deadline for players hit with the one-year tender. No deal materialized, with Barkley turning down offers which increased in AAV at the expense of guarantees.

In the end, a training camp holdout was avoided with the parties agreeing to a small incentive package which allows Barkley’s 2023 compensation to max out at $11MM. Individual statistical performances, along with team success, is required for his earnings to reach the maximum value, though, so any missed time is signficant from a financial outlook.

With Barkley unavailable for the time being, the Giants’ ground game will look much different. He leads the team in rushing yards with 114, putting him slightly ahead of Jones. Breida and Brightwell have combined for 19 yards on four carries, but an increased role for at least one of them will be necessary moving forward. An IR stint for Barkley is unlikely given his recovery timeline, but New York will no doubt proceed with caution with the 26-year-old given his status as an offensive focal point.

NFL Injury Updates: Burrow, Richardson, Barkley, Thomas

Bengals fans have been plenty frustrated with the team’s return on investment from quarterback Joe Burrow‘s record-breaking extension. Through two games, Burrow has averaged 152 yards per game while throwing two touchdowns and an interception. People were concerned about the calf injury that forced him out of practice early in training camp this summer and how it would affect him as the season began. Burrow has pointed to that injury as a big reason for some of his early struggles, according to Jay Morrison of Pro Football Network.

Morrison noted that Burrow spoke “with a level of concern” after today’s game when addressing his right calf. He claimed to have tweaked his calf in today’s loss to the Ravens. Not only did he consider it a factor today, and likely last week, but he also thought there was a chance that it could end up being a tight rope that he is forced to walk for the remainder of the season.

It’s not difficult to see that the Burrow we’ve seen so far this year has been far from what we’re used to seeing in recent years. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals move forward with the handling of Burrow’s calf. Pushing him too hard could result in an extended absence, while a short reprieve of a week or two could help him get on top of a recovery that seems to be troubling him. There’s a lot of season left to go, and the Bengals will be keeping a close eye on Burrow in the days and weeks to come.

Here are a few other updates from around the NFL:

  • Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson got off to a hot start in the second game of his NFL career, rushing for two touchdowns early in today’s divisional matchup with the Texans. Richardson had to exit the game in the first half, though, after sustaining a concussion that would hold him out for the remainder of the contest. Richardson was replaced by backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who helped secure the team’s first win of the season. Richardson will need to go through concussion protocols in order to return to the field. This season, the protocols for return take about five days to get through, meaning Richardson absolutely has a chance to return for Week 3 if he can pass the necessary tests. If not, Minshew will continue to play in relief.
  • Giants running back Saquon Barkley was injured in the final two minutes of today’s win over the Cardinals. He was obviously kept out of the remainder of the game but was visibly upset on the sideline while surrounded by trainers. They taped Barkley’s ankle, but he continued to walk with a significant limp. According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, an x-ray was performed after the game, while Barkley was still experiencing some swelling and discomfort. It has now been reported as a sprained ankle, according to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, meaning New York may have dodged a giant bullet, forgive the pun. While this bodes well for Barkley’s season-long prospects, the short week will not be his friend. Expect the Giants to exercise caution and, barring a miracle recovery, hold Barkley out for their Thursday night matchup against the 49ers. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Barkley will undergo an MRI tomorrow in order to determine the severity of the injury and gain an idea of just how much time he may miss.
  • Joining Richardson above, Commanders tight end Logan Thomas left the team’s win over the Broncos today with a concussion that he sustained after getting clobbered over the middle by Denver safety Kareem Jackson. Jackson was ejected for the hit. Backup tight ends John Bates and Cole Turner both got significant run in Thomas’ absence and will continue to do so if he isn’t able to return next week.
  • Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (knee), Cowboys right guard Zack Martin (ankle), and Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) all sustained injuries today that kept them out of their respective games. Reports from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Jane Slater and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tell us that none of these injuries are considered serious.

Latest On Giants, Saquon Barkley

The Giants-Saquon Barkley saga is on hold for the next several months. The Giants gave the sixth-year running back a small incentive package to report to camp on time, and Barkley is tied to the $10.1MM franchise tender this season.

Twists and turns emerged on the way here, of course, and this certainly could be the final year of this partially fruitful partnership. Barkley, 26, made comments regarding the Giants-side leaks that came out of these negotiations and, just before the tag deadline, discussed a number of topics — including his skillset and usage rate. His skillset, naturally, came up during negotiations.

Barkley’s receiving ability became a sticking point during the ultimately failed talks, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, who notes the team made a point to state that the former No. 2 overall pick’s receiving prowess was not on the level of Christian McCaffrey‘s. During his appearance on the Money Matters podcast just before the July 17 deadline, Barkley disputed the team’s contention about his aerial capabilities.

If that’s what you are telling me and I know what they signed for, what are we really talking about?” Barkley said. “After hearing that, they tell you, ‘This is the type of player you are.’ I’m like, ‘Eh, no. I can catch the ball. I had 91 catches, the rookie record for a running back.”

In attempting to find common ground, the Giants compared Barkley to two run-oriented backs. That assessment can be deemed partially inaccurate, but the way Barkley has been used since that 91-catch 2018 season does not paint it as entirely misleading. The Giants have not involved Barkley nearly as much as a receiver since Pat Shurmur‘s firing. Eli Manning being benched early in the 2019 season became a tipping point for Barkley’s pass-game usage.

En route to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, the former No. 2 overall pick totaled 721 receiving yards in 2018. Only Hall of Famers Edgerrin James and Eric Dickerson have topped Barkley’s 2,028 scrimmage yards as rookies. While Barkley’s 2022 comeback season resulted in a career-high rushing total (1,312 yards), he did not approach the 2018 yards-from-scrimmage number due to less pass-game involvement. Barkley caught 57 passes for just 338 yards during his first season with Brian Daboll. That is his third-highest career total, with Shurmur’s second season — featuring Daniel Jones as the primary QB — ending with 52 Barkley receptions for 438 yards.

McCaffrey has averaged 8.5 yards per catch over his career; Barkley is at 7.4. If the Giants view Barkley as more of a runner, naturally his value will drop. Of course, Barkley’s camp almost definitely argued he remains a high-end receiving talent — just in an offense that has not properly utilized that skill. It will be interesting to see how the Giants use Barkley this year, but seeing as the team made a point to acquire Darren Waller and more receiving help, a spike in Barkley targets is harder to envision. Barkley’s receiving total this year will certainly make an impact in his 2024 market value — should the Giants pass on a second franchise tag.

Raiders Offered Josh Jacobs $12MM-Per-Year Deal?

Saquon Barkley‘s Giants negotiations brought a run of term updates, with the sides’ back-and-forth leading to a narrowing gap but no extension. Josh Jacobs‘ Raiders talks did not feature numbers ahead of the deadline, but at least one has emerged in the days since.

The Raiders are believed to have offered Jacobs a deal worth $12MM per year, Mike Garafolo of said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). Conflicting reports have circulated regarding how close the Raiders and Jacobs were on a deal, with one indicating this Raiders regime was not especially keen on making a higher-end running back extension part of their roster blueprint. This report suggests the parties appeared to be near the same page.

As Jacobs’ less public negotiations played out, Garafolo adds he and Barkley were in communication during the final hours before the July 17 extension deadline. Barkley had seen the Giants slash their AAV offer as their guarantees climbed to the $22MM level. It is not known where the Raiders were, guarantee-wise, but Garafolo adds Barkley likely would have accepted the offer the Raiders made to Jacobs had the Giants presented those terms to him.

A $12MM-per-year pact would have put Jacobs in the dwindling upper class of RB contracts. That group has absorbed a number of blows this offseason. The Cowboys cut Ezekiel Elliott, and the Vikings moved on from Dalvin Cook. Two other $12MM-per-year backs — Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon — agreed to pay cuts. The only players left with unchanged deals in this salary neighborhood are Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb. With the Giants and Raiders not going into the CMC-Kamara neighborhood, each proposed deals in line with the Henry ($12.5MM per year) and Chubb ($12.2MM AAV) numbers.

The Giants provided a small incentive package for Barkley, preventing a lengthy absence that could have stretched into September. Jacobs, 25, is the only tagged back staying away from his team. The Raiders cannot fine Jacobs, since he has not signed his $10.1MM franchise tender. They can rescind the tag, a scenario that would make the reigning rushing champ a free agent. That should not be considered likely, at this point, but the fifth-year back is staying away as Las Vegas’ camp begins.

Jacobs has made references to standing up for the running back position as a whole, and considering the discussions among NFL backs in recent days, it is interesting he and Barkley were communicating about their respective negotiations. Barkley was best positioned to make a Le’Veon Bell-like stand by withholding services into the regular season, due to his $38MM-plus in career earnings and the Giants not having a No. 1 wide receiver-type presence. Jacobs has earned just more than $11MM during his career. Passing on a $10.1MM payment is not especially realistic, given the diminished earning power this period’s backs possess.

Giants-Saquon Barkley Fallout: Negotiations, Incentives, Trade, RB Coalition

The long-running Saquon Barkley-Giants saga has hit a pause, with the Pro Bowl running back signing a revised franchise tag that includes a small incentive package. Unable to negotiate a long-term deal until January, Barkley returned to the team for the start of training camp.

Barkley relayed his disappointment about the talks failing to produce an offer he deemed respectable, indicating Thursday (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan) if the Giants had submitted worthwhile terms he would have signed an extension. Rumors pointed to the Giants upping their guarantee offer past the $22MM mark but decreasing the deal’s AAV below $12MM. Previous reports had placed an earlier Giants proposal past $13MM-per-year territory. But Barkley will enter this season on the $10.1MM tag, being in the same boat as Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs.

While Barkley did not express dissatisfaction about the Giants paying Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas — on deals worth $40MM, $22.5MM and $23.5MM per year, respectively — and not him, he did note (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard) the continued devaluation of the running back position is unfair. He took part in the recent Zoom call involving several running backs, and Chargers standout Austin Ekeler recently confirmed (via USA Today’s Tyler Dragon) more discussions among RBs are on tap.

Declining to discuss details of the proposals each side made during the negotiations, the sixth-year running back said (via Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano) the Giants having the leverage from the tag led to no deal commencing. But the Giants reached out to Barkley for a way to bring him back into the fold, Mike Garafolo of tweets. Had the incentive package — worth $909K — emerged, Vacchiano echoes previous reports by adding Barkley was considering not showing up until just before the season.

The 26-year-old RB said skipping regular-season games would be an option, but it does not look like he strongly considered that path — one that would have meant passing on $561K game checks. Barkley could have taken the Le’Veon Bell route to preserve his body for a free agency bid, but considering the state of the RB market five years after Bell’s gamble, it is unlikely a Jets-like parachute would have awaited had he done so.

If I sat out this year and we didn’t have a good record, do you think that’s gonna make another team in free agency or the Giants want to have me come back the next year after I sat out a whole year?” Barkley said, via “‘We want to give you $15MM a year now.’ I don’t think that’s how it’s going to work.

After having conversations and really breaking it down, you say the only way that I’m going to make a change or do something that’s gonna benefit for myself and my family is doing what I do best. That’s showing up, playing the game I love and do it at a high level.”

As for Barkley’s incentives, they are classified as not likely to be earned. As such, the $909K number will not go on New York’s 2023 cap sheet. If Barkley hits any of the benchmarks, those numbers will go on the team’s 2024 payroll. Each number is tied to Big Blue making the playoffs, per the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy, who notes the rushing yards (1,350), receptions (65) and touchdowns (11) totals are each worth $303K and only vest if the team reaches the postseason (Twitter links).

Barkley last hit 65 catches in 2018, which was also his only season with 11-plus TDs. He has never rushed for 1,350 yards. If the Giants tag Barkley again, the incentives would be part of that agreement as well, Albert Breer of adds. But the base value of a 2024 tag would still be $12.1MM.

A report indicated the Giants heard from two teams — one of them the Dolphins — on a prospective Barkley trade following the failed extension talks, but GM Joe Schoen insisted no discussions occurred. The Giants listened on Barkley trade interest last year, but he bounced back from an injury-plagued stretch and drew the franchise tag. The team can still trade Barkley before this year’s deadline, though no extension agreement can commence. The Giants trading the New Jersey native would leave them vulnerable at running back, hence the decision to keep him via the tag in March.

We never had a conversation about trading Saquon Barkley. Never,” Schoen said, via Raanan. “We get calls all the time. We’ve already gotten them this offseason, whether it’s our 10th corner … or one of your top guys. We get those calls all the time, even in June.

… We talked for over 9½ months, and we came to a landing spot and they came to a landing spot. We couldn’t bridge the gap [on a long-term deal]. Like I said, that’s OK. Saquon has to do what is best for him and his family. I respect the hell out of Saquon.”

Dolphins Inquired On Saquon Barkley Trade

More news concerning the process by which Saquon Barkley arrived at his current position has come out. Conflicting reports have emerged, but one key takeaway is the interest shown by a team long thought to be in the market for a different veteran running back.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that, upon the Giants’ decision to use the franchise tag on Barkley, his agents requested the team shop him in an effort to find a suitable trade partner. The Giants themselves (along with several outlets, as well as Barkley himself) have denied that New York ever intended to move on from the two-time Pro Bowler, who has repeatedly stated his intention of spending his full career in the Big Apple.

Providing clarity on the matter, the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy notes that teams called the Giants to explore the possibility of a trade. Specifically, two clubs inquired about Barkley’s availability, and New York turned down the offers which were made. One of those, per Dunleavy, was the Dolphins.

Miami has long been connected to Dalvin Cook, by far the most high-profile name left on the open market amongst running backs. A deal sending the four-time Pro Bowler to his hometown team is something for which mutual interest is believed to exist, though the current offer on the table is not sufficient in Cook’s view. Miami has a number of backs on the roster already, but winning the Cook sweepstakes would provide a considerable boost to their ground game.

Intra-divisional competition in the form of the Patriots and Jets has emerged, so the Dolphins’ attention will likely remain on Cook for the time being. In any event, it is certainly notable they went as far as to make an offer for Barkley when his long-term Giants future was in doubt. The latter team’s approach kept Barkley’s market quiet, though, paving the way for today’s resolution to his short-term situation.

The 26-year-old agreed to an adjusted franchise tag which includes $900K in incentives above the $10.1MM he was set to earn by playing on the tender. That move has not addressed Barkley’s long-term future in New York (seeing as the team could simply tag him again next season), but it marked an end to an offseason in which the Giants fielded calls on what would have been a franchise-altering trade.

Giants, Saquon Barkley Agree To Deal

In a surprise twist, the franchise tag-induced situation between Saquon Barkley and the Giants has been resolved. The two sides agreed on a one-year deal worth up to $11MM, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).

The guaranteed base value of the contract is $10.1MM – the same as the franchise tag Barkley was set to play on during the 2023 season. $900K in incentives are in place to give him the opportunity to slightly outpace the earnings he would have seen on the tender. Rushing yards, touchdowns and receptions will yield added compensation, but only if the Giants make the postseason (Twitter links via ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post). Rapoport adds that the 26-year-old will receive a $2MM signing bonus, while his colleague Mike Garafolo notes that New York will still be able to use the tag next year if they so desire (Twitter link).

Barkley was one of three running backs who were unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal ahead of last week’s deadline for franchise tag recipients. Negotiations on that front are not allowed to re-commence until January, but NFL rules allow for one-year deals to be signed in place of the tag, even if they are worked out after the deadline. Such instances are rare, but in this case the provision has allowed for a compromise which will see the Giants’ offensive catalyst work out his contractual status (for this season) in time for training camp.

Barkley and the Giants came within roughly $2MM on both annual value and guaranteed compensation during their eleventh-hour negotiations, marking notable progress but leading to questions about why a deal could not be worked out. The team’s last offer included an increase in AAV in exchange for a lesser guaranteed figure, and it was only right up against the deadline that New York was willing to reach the $22MM mark in the latter category. That represents the amount Barkley (along with Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard) would earn on consecutive tags, which are fully guaranteed. Offers including assurances above $22MM on a multi-year contract would therefore be needed for those backs to see them as an improvement on playing out two tags.

After the deadline passed, Barkley spoke publicly about his frustrations with leaked information regarding extension talks. He also expanded on the previously-reported possibility that he would not only hold out from training camp, but skip out regular season games as well. Doing so would have resulted in $560K in lost salary per week, and left the team without the focal point of their ground game. That scenario is now off the table, though, and both parties can move forward with preparations for the season.

Having not signed his tag, Barkley would not have been subject to fines for missing camp. Now that he will be under contract, his attendance will be mandatory. His return to the team will be a welcomed development, as he looks to build off his career-best 1,312 rushing yards from last season, which helped propel to Giants to a surprise run to the divisional round of the playoffs. The financial element of his 2023 performance will still be worth watching closely, however, since today’s news leaves him eligible to be tagged for a second time after the campaign.

With Barkley’s situation now resolved and Pollard having already signed his tag, attention will now turn to Jacobs. The latter began his hold out of Raiders training camp yesterday, and he has also acknowledged the threat of missing regular season games. Whether or not this Giants-Barkley compromise provides a blueprint for a solution between Jacobs and the Raiders will be worth watching closely.

Latest On RB Coalition

Last night, a group of the NFL’s veteran running backs got together on a Zoom call organized by Chargers rusher Austin Ekeler. There was a reportedly strong turnout of NFL-talent for a meeting that ultimately gained little ground. Mike Florio of NBC Sports was able to provide some details on what transpired during the meeting.

According to Florio, despite some of the league’s best backs being in attendance, little progress was made towards a solution. The league’s current collective bargaining agreement is in place through 2030, and it doesn’t provide the running backs much leeway in their options. The NFL Players Association, which was not a part of the conversation last night, can’t necessarily contribute much to the conversation as, due to the nature of a league with a salary cap, giving money to running backs necessitates that money be taken from other positions.

That didn’t stop NFLPA president JC Tretter from suggesting in an interview that running backs could simply stage hold-ins by embellishing, exaggerating, or simply fabricating injuries. That suggestion was brought up on the call but quickly dismissed as it would feed “into the narrative that (running backs are) prone to injury.” It would also provide backs further down the depth chart an opportunity to prove they’re a better roster value than they’re more “injury-prone” counterparts.

Other ideas that could help the group include the use of the league’s Performance-Based Pay Pool to supplement running back income, shortening the position’s track to a second contract, or making adjustments to the franchise tag formula. Performance-Based Pay would reward the league’s top backs whose production exceeds their meager contracts. Shortening rookie contracts for running backs is a complicated solution that would likely require the NFLPA to negotiate on behalf of the running backs, which, again, can take away from other positions represented by the Association.

The franchise tag formula provides two possible solutions. The first would see the formula modified to simply increase the value of running back tags. The normal calculation would be increased to make tagging rushers a bit more costly of an option and force teams to explore second contracts with more dedication. The second solution is actually a bit of an extension on the first, suggesting a source for that increase. Currently, all offensive linemen’s franchise tag amounts are based on the contracts of tackles (the highest earning members of their position group). For this reason, interior linemen often don’t get tagged because they would be paid a tackle’s rate. If the league were to break up the offensive line into three categories (tackles, guards, centers), the interior linemen would no longer be receiving tackle-money, providing some wiggle room for running backs.

One of the players who attended the call was Browns running back Nick Chubb, who spoke to the media about the discussion, according to Jake Trotter of ESPN. Chubb confirmed that such elite athletes as Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Saquon Barkley all attended and contributed to the conversation.

Chubb also elaborated on the feeling of being handcuffed in terms of what action can be taken. He expanded on a common complaint that running back is the only position whose production hurts them. If they go out and rush for 2,000 yards, instead of being rewarded, they are assumed to be worn down. Chubb is a year away from a contract year himself, but he fully recognizes that he could find himself in this situation during the next offseason.

Regardless, right now, without the help of the NFLPA, there isn’t much for running backs to do. Some backs pointed out that their own agents have contributed to the problem (agents were not on the call). Often, agents will backload ridiculous numbers into a contract that inflate the annual average value (AAV) to amounts that a running back will never see.

Saints rusher Alvin Kamara‘s contract is a perfect example. With an AAV of $15MM, Kamara has only seen that much money in the first year of his deal, when he received a $15MM signing bonus. In 2021, he only received $2MM cash and, for the three subsequent years, he earned/will earn between $11MM and $11.80MM cash. These numbers are all so much lower than the AAV because, in the final year of the contract, Kamara is set to receive $25MM cash. The chances of Kamara reaching that final, big payout are extremely low, but that amount made what was really a $10MM per year contract much more palatable.

The running backs need to ensure that their agents are on the same page about whatever strategies they decide to implement. Florio wisely points out that, while teams are not allowed to collude in regard to negotiating strategies, players and their agents absolutely have the right to collaborate.

Saquon Barkley Addresses Giants Negotiations, Prospect Of Missing Games

After the Giants and Saquon Barkley spent the past eight months in sporadic extension talks, the Pro Bowl running back will be forced to play this season on a $10.1MM franchise tag. Barkley joins Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard in this boat during a turbulent stretch for the running back position.

The Giants and Barkley came within approximately $2MM — both in AAV and guarantees — of hammering out a deal. As RB value dropped this offseason, Barkley and Jacobs are not expected to report to their respective training camps. Barkley has now referenced the prospect of sitting out regular-season games on multiple occasions.

During a podcast appearance days before the Monday’s tag deadline, the Giants back outlined his thought process regarding his absence lasting into the regular season.

I have no worry about going on a football field and knowing that I’m not playing for my worth or saying if I have to play, because this is my leverage: my leverage is I could say f*** you to the Giants,” Barkley said during an appearance on The Money Matters Podcast with Jack Mallers (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard). “I could say f*** you to my teammates and be like, ‘You want me to show you my worth? You want me to show how valuable I am to the team? I won’t show up. I won’t play a down. And that’s a play I can use.

Anybody [who] knows me knows that’s not something I want to do. But is that something that’s crossed my mind? I never thought I would ever do that, but now I’m at a point where it’s like ‘Jesus, like, I might have to take it to this level.’ Am I willing and prepared to take it to the level? I don’t know.”

None of Barkley’s options at this point include money beyond 2023. He has not signed the $10.1MM franchise tender, allowing for a camp no-show without a fine. He addressed the subject of a Le’Veon Bell-like move earlier this summer, and a recent report reintroduced the prospect of skipping at least Week 1. Barkley would lose out on $561K for each game missed, but seeing as the former No. 2 overall pick resides in a different NFL tax bracket compared to Jacobs or Pollard due to banking $38MM-plus from 2018-22, missing games to punish the Giants and remove the risk of injury and wear and tear is more realistic in this case.

[Missing games is] something I gotta sit down and talk to my family [about],” Barkley said. “I gotta sit down and talk to my team, gotta really strategize about this. I can’t just go off of emotions … But I am at a place where if I do go on the field and have to play and prove again, I’m fine with that.”

The only upside of a Barkley in-season absence would be limiting mileage and better positioning himself for a free agency bid in 2024. Barkley logged 352 touches in 2018 and 2022, and injury- and talent-based questions about the Giants’ receiving corps positions the sixth-year running back as a cornerstone player in 2023 as well. While Bell took considerable heat for passing on a $14.5MM franchise tag in 2018, the Jets gave him a four-year, $52.5MM deal ($27MM guaranteed) in 2019. The current RB market does not suggest a windfall would await Barkley next year, and the Giants could tag him again at barely $12MM. But the Penn State product is running out of time to score a lucrative veteran contract.

Barkley, 26, can also attempt to use the threat of missed games to entice the Giants to add a clause that prohibits a second tag in 2024. This staring contest may last a bit, with Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline adding Barkley feels disrespected and will be ready to stay away from his team for a “significant” time period.

Barkley assessed the contract negotiations — at least those that occurred before last weekend — and indicated a conversation with John Mara prompted him to intervene during the sides’ winter talks. But after the Giants franchise-tagged Barkley, they pulled a contract offer. The sides’ talks before this week’s deadline brought the guarantee total toward $22MM but dropped the AAV below $12MM. Although the Mara talks did not produce a deal, Pauline adds second-year GM Joe Schoen communicated to Barkley and Daniel Jones of a likelihood of the player not extended in March would have a real chance of playing on the tag. The Giants made Jones their top offseason priority and extended him (four years, $160MM) minutes before the March deadline to tag players.

That was the only time I really got involved in the negotiation process,” Barkley said. “I sat down with the owner. The owner told me what it was, told me how they care about me. And this is when we were still going tit for tat [with offers] … The owner opened up to me, and I respected that.

“’I let you [Mara] know how much I feel about this place, how much I feel about your family, … how much I feel about [Steve] Tisch’s family.’ That’s when I picked up the phone and I called my agent and I was like, ‘I don’t care; let’s get it done. Like boom, this is where I want to be, this is the number I’m fine with, boom, let’s get there.’ … When you get tagged, now they have the tag, now it’s like, ‘You know what Saquon? If we really want to, we don’t have to offer you anything.'”

Previously accusing the Giants of providing dishonest information about his contract desires via leaks, Barkley also accused the team of comparing him to backs with inferior receiving skillsets. To be fair, the Giants have not used Barkley’s receiving chops too much since Pat Shurmur‘s exit; his last 400-plus-yard aerial season came in 2019.

I’m not even asking for what I’m worth,” Barkley said of his goal before the deadline. “Because I just told you I’m the best running back in the NFL. But I’m not going to war for that. In the negotiation process, I’m not going to war for that.

For me, I was like, you know what, I can go there, I can go to war, try to get as much money as I can, but at the end of the day, what really matters is winning, and winning a championship. And I know if I’m able to help bring a championship to New York, that’s going to go miles more ahead than this contract.”

Due to tag rules, Barkley contract talks cannot commence again until January 2024. The New Jersey native’s comments just before the tag deadline indicated he wanted to stay with the Giants for the rest of his career. It will be interesting to see how this saga plays out now that the extension talks have ceased.

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.