It’s one of the NFL’s biggest unanswered questions as the off-season months pass by and the clock begins ticking down to the start of the new term: what’s the future of Saquon Barkley?
What’s happening with Saquon Barkley?
Barkley is one of the New York Giants’ biggest stars, but he and his team have come into conflict in recent weeks over his contract, the financials behind it, and the $10.1m franchise tag that the Giants have placed on Barkley.
Reports suggest that Giants General Manager Joe Schoen has already offered Barkley around $12 million a year, but Barkley is understood to have declined that deal, leading to the franchise tag. Instead, he’s said to be looking for a contract that would offer him $39 million across three years or $52 million across four, averaging out to at least $13 million a year.
These figures may seem massive and it’s easy for fans to see Barkley’s dismissal of the reported $12 million deal as arrogant and greedy, but sporting financials can be a tricky business. Deals reported by the media often include bonuses and other performance-based pay, so only a portion of the numbers known to the public are ‘guaranteed’ salary; the rest may never be realised, depending on how the Giants and Barkley himself get on during the season.
Whatever the details of any proposed deal, Barkley feels that his true value has not yet been met, having helped the Giants boost performance over the last few years. “I feel like I’m worth more than that,” he’s explained. “I feel like we finally got to the place where we’re a successful team and we’re winning games and I feel like I was a big part of that.”
What are the New York Giants saying?
For their part, the Giants themselves are hopeful that Barkley will be open to compromise and that he’ll remain a part of the set-up into next season. “When you’re dealing with someone who is extremely mature, like Saquon, you can separate the personal and the professional,” Giants Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown said.
“And I think when you have honest and open conversations and you take the feelings out of it, you’re able to establish common ground. It doesn’t mean you’re going to agree. But that’s what I appreciate about him. He can listen and digest the information we’re giving him, and he can tell us his feelings as well.”
What’s for sure is that with the start of the new season fast approaching, a decision will need to be made soon. If no agreement on a contract extension is reached, Barkley will have two options: sign the franchise tag or sit out the new season. The franchise tag deadline is July 17th, so the clock on this long-running saga is ticking.
The idea that Barkley would sit the whole of the season out simply doesn’t work for either party, robbing the Giants of a key player and causing serious disruption to Barkley’s career, so it’s likely some kind of positive conclusion will be arrived at soon. But money talks and in the often-chaotic world of American sport, anything could happen.