Saquon Barkley
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We have less than a week until the franchise tag deadline. The Giants and Saquon Barkley have until Monday at 4:00 p.m. to agree on an extension or the running back will be playing on the tag. Or sitting out the season, which we all know he won’t actually do.

It’s been one of the bigger storylines of the offseason and has led to one of the team’s more daunting questions: should general manager Joe Schoen sign Barkley to the extension that he desires or hold firm with the tag?

The answer is, and has been, the latter. Schoen must keep the tag on Barkley for the 2023 season, whether Barkley feels a certain type of way about it or not.

Let me ask you this: what would the Giants be gaining from signing Barkley to a multi-year deal?

Of course, the most relevant answer for the upcoming season is that it would lower his cap hit, providing the Giants with more financial flexibility heading into the new year. But is saving a few million dollars for the 2023 season, when the team likely isn’t going to contend for a Super Bowl anyway, worth paying Barkley over $22 million in guaranteed money? Of course not. And that’s certainly the guaranteed money benchmark he’s gunning for (the Giants could tag him again for around $12 million next year for a total tag guarantee of a little over $22 million).

It’s not like Schoen has this team in dire straights. They’re $3.8 million under the cap (per Over The Cap) with other cost-cutting moves potentially still to be made (releasing cornerback Darnay Holmes, lowering defensive lineman Leonard Williams‘ salary, etc.). The Giants can still put themselves in a decent situation financially without having to guarantee over $22 million to a running back.

And even if we take the long-term approach (instead of just focusing on 2023), signing Barkley still wouldn’t be worth it. This team isn’t all that close to contending and it isn’t like Barkley is the missing piece. He dealt with three injury-plagued seasons heading into last year and still underwent a midseason decline in 2022. Locking Barkley in for multiple years when there are other, more valuable spots to address would be irresponsible roster management from Schoen. Which would totally contradict how he’s operated this offseason (low-risk signings, low-risk trade for tight end Darren Waller, etc.).

Unless the Giants can somehow get Barkley to ink a deal with guarantees a lot lower than $22 million, there’s no way any sort of contract would be worth it. He’ll be on the team for 2023, sure. But it’s tag or bust each of the next two years.

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