Giants Make Saquon Barkley Contract Decision

Saquon Barkley

Getty The New York Giants finally made a decision about Saquon Barkley's contract situation.

Saquon Barkley knows where he’ll be playing football in 2023. The star running back will still be a member of the New York Giants, after Big Blue applied the franchise tag ahead of the deadline on Tuesday, March 7. He’ll now earn $10.091 million for the season, per Over The Cap.

That deal was reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo:

Later, The Athletic confirmed Barkley has received the non-exclusive tag. It means he could still leave this offseason, but only if a team is willing to give the Giants two first-round draft picks.

The Giants acted quickly to beat the clock, following a report earlier in the day from ESPN’s Dianna Russini that talks between the team and Barkley had “stalled.” Her colleague Jordan Raanan believes it’s likely the Giants will eventually agree terms to keep Barkley for longer:

Keeping Barkley out of 2023 NFL free agency, at least for the short term, is still a major coup for the Giants. The future of quarterback Daniel Jones has dominated the agenda, but Rapoport reported the player drafted sixth overall in 2019 agreed a four-year contract on Tuesday, a deal worth $160 million with $35 million in incentives.

Jones got the bumper payday because he plays football’s most important position, but Barkley is the Giants’ legitimate marquee player on offense. Running backs aren’t valued anywhere near as much as quarterbacks in today’s NFL, but Barkley now has the motivation to prove himself all over again on a one-year deal.

It could lead to a career year from a truly dynamic playmaker who can maximize his value ahead of perhaps getting to test the market a year from now.

Giants’ Best Weapon Primed for Monster Year

Barkley merits faith from the Giants after posting career-best marks for carries (295) and rushing yards (1,312) during head coach Brian Daboll’s first season in charge. No. 26 also tied for the team lead with 57 receptions.

Numbers from Pro Football Focus show how effectively Barkley bounced back from some injury-hit years to rejoin the ranks of the elite at his position:

The heavy workload reflected Barkley’s importance as the lone elite weapon on the Giants’ offense. He’s a game-breaker as a runner and in the passing game, a talent the Giants would struggle to replace.

It’s not hard to find a new running back, particularly in a year when free agency is loaded at the position. Backs like Jamaal Williams of the Detroit Lions, Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers’ lead rusher D’Onta Foreman are all set to enter the veteran market.

All three are viable options for the Giants, but none are as explosive as Barkley. Another year in an offense tailored to his particular skills, along with the incentive to earn a bigger payday in a year’s time, should see Barkley scale even greater heights in ’23.

If he can, Barkley will ease the pressure on Jones to deliver.

Re-Signed Star Will Still Carry the Offense

Barkley returning to be the bell-cow back for another year is good news for Jones. The latter still needs to prove it while playing on the tag/signing a multi-year deal after Schoen and Daboll declined his fifth-year option last offseason.

Jones needs help to take his game to the next level. Specifically, he needs better targets on the outside.

The Giants still have enough space under the salary cap, along with viable draft capital, to help a recruitment drive for premier pass-catchers bear fruit. Putting superior athletes among the wideout rotation can only help Jones and Barkley.

For Jones, the longer he gets to hand the ball to Barkley, the longer he’ll stay efficient and succeed within the framework of Daboll and coordinator Mike Kafka’s offense.

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