Saquon Barkley Drops Holdout Hint Amid Giants Contract Saga

Saquon Barkley

Getty New York Giants' running back Saquon Barkley admitted he's thought about a holdout.

Saquon Barkley admitted the thought of a holdout has crossed his mind because the way the New York Giants handled his contract situation “doesn’t sit well.”

Barkley expressed feelings of frustration through NSFW language during an appearance on “The Money Matters Podcast” that aired on Monday, July 17: “I could say, ‘F*** you’ to the Giants, I could say, ‘F*** you to my teammates, and be like, ‘You want me to show you my worth? You want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I won’t show up. I won’t play a down.’ And that’s a play I could use.”

The 26-year-old quickly added, “that’s not something I wanna do, but is it 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, I might have to take it to this level. And like, am I willing, am I prepared to take it to the level? I don’t know.”

Before going through with any holdout Barkley revealed he would have to “talk with my family. I gotta sit down, talk to my team. I gotta really strategize about this. I can’t just go off of emotions.”

Even though Barkley has no plans to down tools any time soon, the fact he’s even thought about it doesn’t bode well for the Giants, who expect their best player to settle for the franchise tag this season.

It’s something Barkley believes the team could have avoided.

Saquon Barkley Not Happy About Giants’ Approach

Barkley’s interview aired on the same day the Giants failed in their final attempt to agree a new, long-term contract with their two-time Pro Bowl running back. Yet Barkley was feeling uneasy about the way things were going long before the deadline.

He revealed how “it just doesn’t sit right with me. I came out publicly and said that I want to be a Giant for life. I didn’t want to hit the free-agency market. Obviously, I feel like it could have been done, we could’ve got the job done. Obviously, they have their version of it, I have my version of it.”

Things broke down over how the terms were structured, according to Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports. He reported the Giants were prepared to “offer more than $20M in guaranteed money,” but “other concessions” undermined that deal.

Barkley is railing against the constraints of the tag, a one-year front-loaded deal that as good as requires he prove himself all over again. Asking for further proof should be unnecessary after Barkley essentially was the offense for the Giants in 2022.

His value was summed up by this hefty scrimmage yards per game statistic from Pro Football Focus.

Finishing the campaign with 295 carries and a tie for the team lead with 57 receptions underlined how much the Giants need Barkley. The numbers should have made paying up inevitable, but general manager Joe Schoen also had to resolve the future of quarterback Daniel Jones.

Applying the tag to Jones would’ve cost $32.4 million, a figure sure to have cut into the Giants’ plans to strengthen other areas of the roster. It was ultimately more cost-effective to tag Barkley and stick with the prevailing notion in today’s NFL that acquiring a serviceable running back is easier than finding a competent QB1.

There’s logic to the argument, but the Giants have taken a big risk by applying a broad rule to a specific situation.

Giants Could Regret Not Going Against NFL Thinking

The NFL’s devaluation of the running back position isn’t obvious in Barkley’s case alone. Two of his fellow 1,000-yard rushers, Dallas Cowboys’ star Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders, also saw their teams reach for the tag instead of parting with more dollars.

All three have suffered thanks to other positions being considered more valuable. The rule may apply in most cases, but Barkley can reasonably claim to being at least as important as any starting quarterback.

While teams find it easier to replace running backs, Barkley isn’t just any running back. He’s a dual-threat playmaker and a touchdown machine who found the end zone 12 times last season.

Removing Barkley from this offense is not a scenario the Giants want to live with for any significant amount of time. Not when veteran Matt Breida and rookie fifth-round pick Eric Gray are the only alternatives.

Hopefully, Barkley’s ultimate desire to stay with the Giants for the long haul will induce him to play his best football on the tag, although he’s unlikely to make the same concession again a year from now.