THE SAQUAN BARKLEY SAGA CONTINUES

Saquon Barkley’s contract negotiation has recently been an interesting case study. The age-old question of whether to pay or not pay a running back past their rookie contracts has been a primary talking point in NFL media for years.

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The running back market is swinging like a pendulum from the lows of Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers to the highs of Ezekiel Elliot and Christian Mcaffey’s record-breaking contracts. Unfortunately, for Saquon Barkley, it seems the running back market has depressed significantly in 2023.

According to CBS Sports, Barkley was offered a contract carrying an AAV of $14 million before the Franchise Tag deadline. I can’t speak to the exact details of guarantees and incentives, but he declined the offer in favor of continuing negotiations. If it weren’t for Daniel Jones getting a buzzer-beater deal done before the franchise tag deadline, Barkley would’ve hit the free agent market. Honestly, Barkley receiving the franchise tag paying $10.1 million fully guaranteed this season may have saved him the embarrassment of hitting a barren free-agent RB market. This year’s RB market gave the most significant contract to Miles Sanders, paying an AAV of $6.35 million for four years for a total of $25.4 million. Sanders is less talented than Barkley but put up great numbers with 1,349 all-purpose yards and 11 rushing TDs in 2022. Would a team have paid more than the $14 million per season when Sanders was paid less than half?

Since the franchise tag deadline, Joe Schoen has since rescinded the prior offer but says he wants to continue the negotiations in hopes of getting an extension done before the start of the season. Saquon Barkley’s agent, Kim Miale, who advised him to turn down a multi-year $14 million AAV contract, should be fired. Turning down an extension that would’ve made Barkley a top 3 highest paid back, with ZERO assessment on the current state of the free agent RB market, is gross negligence. It is pretty odd for Joe Schoen to rescind the prior offer, but I understand why after seeing the Panthers get Miles Sanders less than half of what he offered Barkley. Kim Miale gave up all their negotiating leverage, and in the worst-case scenario, the Giants will tag Barkley again next season if needed.

Saquon Barkley is the engine that makes this team go, and I can’t imagine watching the Giants in 2023 without him. With that said, overpaying your running back can haunt you, so finding an extension that keeps the Giants out of the salary cap Hell that Joe Schoen just escaped is a must. The best thing for all parties involved is to work out an extension that makes sense for everyone instead of dragging this along.