The Giants-Saquon Barkley contract drama is still alive and well, folks. It only stopped momentarily after New York agreed to an extension with quarterback Daniel Jones and slapped the $10.09 million franchise tag on the former Penn State Nittany Lion. There’s a chance things continue to get even juicier, too.
Big Blue is beginning off-season workouts on Monday in East Rutherford. Barkley, who has yet to sign his franchise tag tender in hopes of getting a multi-year extension, won’t be participating. That’s not shocking, and it’s also not the end of the world. After all, this was really the only bargaining chip the running back had left to use. He might as well use it.
But depending on how things go over the next couple of weeks, things could get even more awkward. Dexter Lawrence also won’t be in attendance as he tries to get a new contract. It seems like he’s more of a priority for general manager Joe Schoen at this point.
The 2023 NFL Draft starts on April 27th. New York owns the 25th overall pick. There are several iterations on how things can play out ahead of the Giants’ selection. But we really won’t know what happens until Draft Day. While team owner John Mara has said there are no plans of rescinding Barkley’s franchise tag offer, it’s still among the options at New York’s disposal.
Here’s what NJ.com’s Bob Brookover said about it:
On the other hand, things could actually get worse for Barkley, who is still playing a game of chicken that he cannot win.
Consider this scenario: Barkley continues to remain unsigned ahead of the April 27 draft and when the Giants’ turn to pick at No. 25 comes up, the team is confronted with a draft board that has the names Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers and Quentin Johnston crossed off.
The top-rated player remaining on the board is Texas’ Bijan Robinson, a blue-chip running back who also has great receiving and blocking skills.
If the Giants decide Robinson’s talent is too good to pass up at No. 25, they then could rescind the tag on Barkley, which would send shock waves through the NFL but may not be a bad business decision.
At that point, Barkley becomes a free agent and the Giants get $10.09 million in salary-cap space. That would make it easier to finish a deal with Lawrence and Schoen would still have money left to add some veteran free agents that could solidify the Giants’ depth at a number of positions.
Now, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? Based on Barkley’s past comments about wanting to be a Giant for life and his stature in the locker room, it’s hard to see a scenario where New York goes through with something like this. But then again, a lot can happen between now and Draft Day. Maybe things sour and the Giants end up cutting him loose.
Who knows at this point? Either way, the fact that it’s even a remote possibility is worth noting. Barkley’s camp overplayed their hand during midseason contract negotiations, and now it’s looking like he doesn’t have much leverage. If any at all.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.