Saquon Barkley’s Giants contract saga has hit a new — and potentially explosive — phase.
The star running back did not land a long-term deal before Monday’s NFL franchise tag deadline. Barkley now has to play the 2023 season on a one-year, $10.1 million deal. Assuming he ever signs it (he will). But Barkley will almost assuredly sit out training camp, and the drama is about to ratchet up from here.
There should not be a deal. Because there is no compelling reason for the Giants to give Barkley one. The smart move — the right one — is to make him play on the $10.1 million tag and do this all again in 2024.
Barkley plays a position that has diminished in importance and value in the modern NFL. That reality is reflected in the depressed running back market — a market that is not going to improve anytime soon. Barkley also has a significant injury history. He is 26 and missed 21 games due to injury from 2019-21. He stayed in the lineup last year, but he appeared to get banged up and slump down the stretch.
Stop with the “face of the team” pablum that Barkley’s fawning admirers push. No one is buying tickets solely to see Barkley play. Moreover, we would argue the face of the Giants remains Eli Manning. The guy no longer suits up, but he remains present in every other facet of the organization. And stop with the disingenuous game about how the Giants paid Jones, so it is only fair they reward the superior player next.
Is Barkley objectively better at his position than Jones is at his? Yes. But the Giants had a compelling reason to give Jones his new deal. One, it has nothing to do with deserve — Jones’ positional neighborhood is a heck of a lot richer than Barkley’s. Second, Schoen had no choice. Jones delivered in his prove-it season and the Giants had no other viable option at quarterback. They could not let him hit the market. They had to retain him. And they had to do whatever they could to avoid carrying his massive tag cap hit.