Saquon Barkley — according to multiple reports — had the opportunity to sign a multi-year contract with at least $22 million in guaranteed money last week. Not to mention the (potentially greater) value of whatever other offers the Giants gave him between last fall and the day he received the franchise tag in March.
Barkley turned it down. Like he had with all the other potential deals. And then he made a ruckus — a threatening leak here, a newsworthy podcast appearance there, some Zoom venting with counterparts and the start of a training camp stay-away. The message was clear: Barkley was digging in. For himself and for the honor of all running backs.
And then he and his representation — which should be fired immediately — folded like a cheap suit.
Let us be clear about the surprise truce that returns Barkley to the team facility and ends this saga: Giants general manager Joe Schoen rolled over him and his camp like a bad homecoming game opponent. Schoen probably feels dumb he ever gave Barkley any offers of substance along the way. What a colossal waste of time.
The Barkley-friendly press is trying hard to spin this. But there is nothing to spin. He basically signed the same franchise tag tender he was wildly offended by for months. The much-ballyhooed $2 million signing bonus is a bookkeeping quirk. The $900,000 in incentives are no layup. And the Giants can hit him with the tag again in 2024. But other than that, mission accomplished.
People wonder why the NFL gets the better of the NFLPA at every single turn. This is an example of why. Barkley capitulated mere days after he participated in a rah-rah summit of aggrieved backs. And people think the union is going to strike to get rid of the franchise tag?
Barkley had boxed himself in. We get that. But this somehow seems worse than the other two bad options he had — immediately signing the tag tender after the deadline passed or staying away for the entirety of the summer. At least he would have been demonstrating power with Doors Nos. 1 and 2. By choosing the third one, Barkley is just a guy who caved after overplaying his cards roughly five times. Yes, he can push up his two-year tag rate if he maxes out this deal. But why do that when you could have basically had all the money already in hand?
What is done, is done. But it is mind-boggling how badly Barkley botched this.