EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 15: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

After Christian McCaffrey earned a large extension, you have to wonder if Saquon Barkley will seek a new deal after 2020.

Jason Leach

On Monday, the Carolina Panthers rewarded their All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey with a four-year extension. The deal will pay him $16 million annually and make him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

The Panthers selected McCaffrey, who turns 24 in June, with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s coming off the best season of his career. McCaffrey earned first-team All-Pro honors and received his inaugural Pro Bowl nod. He became just the third running back — joining Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999) — to rush for 1,000 yards (1,387 total) and rack up 1,000 receiving yards (1,005 total).

He, Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott are widely regarded as the top three running backs in football. Now that McCaffrey’s earned a new deal following his third season in the league, you have to wonder if Barkley will seek an extension after 2020.

In his two seasons with Big Blue, Barkley has been the focal point of the New York Giants offense. He earned AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2018 after racking up 2,028 yards from scrimmage and scoring 15 total touchdowns.

A high ankle sprain limited Barkley to just 13 games last season. But, he was still able to rush for 1,003 yards and score eight total touchdowns. Whenever the 2020 season begins, he will surely remain the workhorse back under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

Nonetheless, he may want an extension similar to the one McCaffrey received.

Barkley is slated to have a cap hit a little over $8.5 million in 2020 and just under $10 million the following campaign. With the rigors of the running back position and already missing time due to injury, it’s fair to think Saquon and his agent will want a new deal.

McCaffrey isn’t the only star running back who received a new contract after their third season in the league. After leading the NFL in rushing in two of his first three seasons, Elliott held out last summer. Eventually, the Cowboys rewarded him with a six-year, $90 million contract extension that’s scheduled to keep him in Dallas through the 2026 season.

Barkley is a consummate professional who will not let contract talks become a distraction. Regardless, he’s seen what Elliott and McCaffrey earned after their respective third seasons. And like anyone in life, Saquon will want to be compensated for his performance.

General manager Dave Gettleman may already have this in the back of his mind which might be why he’s shied away from big-name free agents such as Jadeveon Clowney.

As we mentioned previously, Barkley is an elite back just like McCaffrey and Elliott. Thus, it’s only a matter of time before he’ll want to be paid like them. Next offseason should be interesting for Saquon and Big Blue.

Oh, and just a little tidbit, McCaffrey recently told Mike Vivalo of ESNY that Barkley is his favorite player in the league and that he’d love to play alongside him one day. But if that ends up becoming a possibility, then both would likely have to take some sort of a pay cut to actually make it happen.

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