dexter lawrence saquon barkley giants
Jeffrey Becker | USA TODAY Sports

It has been an intriguing Monday morning on the Saquon Barkley front.

Barkley’s agent, Kim Miale, made what appears to be her first public comment on the running back’s contract standoff with the Giants on Saturday. She tweeted “this is not true” at a fan who quoted a story citing a report Barkley is seeking $16 million a year in annual salary. The tweet has since been amplified by local reporters, along with mentions about the importance of guaranteed money in any deal Barkley strikes with the Giants.

And guarantees, of course, remain the biggest mystery of this entire saga.

As we wrote in April: The fact we are months removed from the Giants’ first offer to Barkley and a guaranteed money figure has yet to be reported speaks volumes.

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Barkley will make a little over $22 million if he plays on back-to-back franchise tags in 2023 and ’24. So it’s hard to believe the Giants would offer him less than that in guaranteed money prior to hitting him with the tag in March. And if they had done that, Barkley’s camp surely would have gotten the word out.

So we remain at the same conclusion we reached a few weeks ago: Barkley and his representation botched the negotiations. The Giants, out of courtesy and respect, have kept their guarantee offer under wraps to cover up how badly Barkley fumbled the bag. But general manager Joe Schoen does not run a charity, and any long-term deal Barkley does sign will reflect the post-tag cratered running back market rather than what was on the table before the tag. And that may mean much less guaranteed money.

Barkley has stayed away from the Giants’ voluntary offseason program so far. And he can skip mandatory minicamp as long as he does not sign the tag tender. Things will not get truly interesting until late July after the tag extension deadline passes. If Barkley and the Giants do not strike a deal — and the Giants have no real motivation to give him one at this juncture — does he hold out from training camp? Barkley cannot be fined until he signs the tender. And he could easily wait unit the Monday before Week 1 to do so.

It would be a hardball move. And it could put a dent in Barkley’s image as a consummate teammate and professional. But this is a business. And Barkley’s presence remains the only real leverage he possesses.

James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.