When the Carolina Panthers inked All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey to a four-year, $64 million extension this offseason, the first thing that ran through the minds of New York Giants fans was Saquon Barkley, and how rich he was about to become.
Run CMC’s contract made him the 2nd-highest-paid running back in football behind Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott. However, that is destined to change rather quickly. With Barkley permitted to ink a new deal in 2021, McCaffrey will almost certainly be knocked down a peg, but by how much?
That is the question that Dan Duggan of The Athletic recently tried to unravel. The price tag he, with a little help from salary cap expert Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald, ultimately landed on would have historical ramifications.
‘You have to assume that he’s going to want a dollar more than Christian McCaffrey at the minimum today, even though he can’t renegotiate today,’ one agent said. ‘Then that value will go up.’
The value could go even higher if Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who is eligible for an extension this offseason, raises the bar in the interim. The consensus is that Barkley’s deal will average at least $17 million per year.
‘I don’t think the Giants can escape a monster contract unless Barkley has a poor year,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘Christian McCaffrey getting a monster contract with Carolina pretty much sets the stage that Barkley will be the highest-paid running back.’
Projected contract: 4 years, $70 million
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Is Barkley Worth the Money?
Should Duggan’s projections reign true, a $70 million deal would make Barkley the richest running back, not only in current-day NFL, but league history. Certainly, a hefty price to pay, especially for a position that the media has tried to convince us for years is becoming less and less integral to an offense’s success.
However, as you look around the league at the McCaffreys, the Zekes, the Derrick Henrys of the world, offenses, namely good offenses, still revolve around a dominant running back. It just so happens that Barkley may be the best of the bunch.
The argument of a limited shelf-life for a running back is a sound one, and valid reason to not break the bank for one. Todd Gurley is the prime example of this belief. However, in Gurley’s case, he’s dealing with a degenerative knee issue. Barkley suffered a meager high-ankle sprain a season ago and has never dealt with serious injuries in his past.
Also, if New York were to re-up the 23-year-old Barkley following this season, he would be just 27-years-old at the conclusion of a four-year deal, limiting the potential of buyer’s remorse towards the latter end of the contract.
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