Saquon Barkley giants
Matt Krohn | USA TODAY Sports

We’ve officially turned to the latest chapter in the Saquon Barkley contract saga. The star Giants running back, who has yet to sign his franchise tag tender and wishes to cash in on a long-term deal, spoke to the media at his youth football camp Sunday night.

Barkley and the Giants have until July 17 to hash out a new contract. If an agreement isn’t made (and it doesn’t seem either side is close to one), Barkley will either need to sign the tender or sit out the season.

His latest trick might be to do the latter … or at least he claims.

So Barkley is going to sit out an entire season? And give up $10.1 million? And lose the trust of the locker room, organization, and fanbase? And try to land a lucrative payday in 2024 — when the Giants can just tag him again — by not playing?

The dynamic but injury-prone back is smarter than that — he knows that would ruin his chances of eventually earning a multi-year deal and could derail his career. He isn’t going to do that over a few million dollars.

It would also lead to the Giants pivoting to Matt Breida, rookie Eric Gray, and a potential trade piece at running back. So neither side would benefit from Barkley’s year-long absence.

If Barkley really wanted to, he could wait until the days leading up to Week 1 to sign his tender. His salary would still be the guaranteed $10.1 million and it’s not like the Giants wouldn’t take him back and play him. He’s an important asset to Brian Daboll’s offense, which Barkley already has experience with (hence why sitting out training camp wouldn’t be a major deal).

Barkley doesn’t have much leverage now, nor will he. The running back market tanked this offseason and the Giants shouldn’t look to sign him for more than $12.5-13 million per year, annual salaries he’s reportedly declined. So the tag seems like the only viable option and Barkley could at least hold this out until the beginning of September — anything longer than that, and things could get ugly.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.