Connect with us


Saquon Barkley contract dispute, explained: Why franchise tag extension deadline could lead Giants RB to hold out

The NFL’s franchise tag deadline passed back in March ahead of free agency, but there is another important deadline approaching for franchise-tagged players.

Players hit with the tag during the offseason have until Monday, July 17 at 4 p.m. ET to agree to a long-term deal with the team that franchised them. If that deadline passes and no deal is reached, then the player’s only option to play that season will be on the one-year franchise tender.

Many of the NFL’s tagged players have already signed the tender, or they have signed lucrative extensions with their teams. However, Saquon Barkley isn’t among them, and it doesn’t seem like he will be by the time the deadline passes.

Barkley and the Giants are embroiled in a contract dispute because the star running back doesn’t want to play on the franchise tag. He wants to sign a long-term contract, but the team hasn’t seemed interested in reciprocating thus far.

If Barkley doesn’t get the deal he wants, he will have two options. He can play on the franchise tag or he can hold out.

It seems like he might take the latter option; and if he does, there will be plenty of questions about how long that holdout may last.

MORE: Why Saquon Barkley skipped Giants’ minicamp amid contract dispute

Here’s what to know about Barkley’s contract situation as it enters the spotlight ahead of Giants training camp.

Saquon Barkley contract rumors

The Giants placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Barkley on March 7, days ahead of NFL free agency. That effectively guaranteed that New York would be able to retain the back — unless a team offered him a significant deal that the Giants declined to match. And in that case, they would receive multiple first-round picks.

While the Giants were happy to keep Barkley after re-signing Daniel Jones to a long-term contract extension, the 26-year-old was hoping to land a contract that makes him one of the NFL’s highest-paid running backs. To date, it doesn’t appear that the two sides have gotten close to a mutually beneficial deal.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports that Barkley and the Giants are at a “stalemate” as the franchise tag extension deadline approaches. And if the two parties don’t bridge that gap, Barkley may hold out into the season.

This shouldn’t necessarily surprise the Giants. Barkley skipped the team’s minicamp as a result of this contract dispute, an indication that he was serious about wanting a lucrative long-term deal.

As such, the threat of a holdout seems real. So, unless the Giants believe that they can either survive without Barkley or that his holdout is a bluff, they need to ramp up their negotiating efforts.

Saquon Barkley contract details

If Barkley decides to play on the franchise tag, he would receive a one-year contract from the Giants worth just under $10.1 million. That would make him the seventh-highest-paid running back in the NFL.

Barkley has only signed one other contract during his NFL career — his cost-controlled rookie deal worth $31.19 million over four years. He also played on a $7.2 million fifth-year option in 2022, so the sum he would receive while playing on the franchise tag would be the largest of his career.

MORE: Revisiting the Jets’ memorable ‘Hard Knocks’ debut in 2010, starring Rex Ryan

NFL running back contracts

As mentioned, Barkley would be the seventh-highest-paid running back in the NFL in terms of average annual value (AAV) if he signs the franchise tender with the Giants. He would be tied with the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs and the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard in AAV, as both of those players are also set to play on the franchise tag in 2023.

Below is a look at the 10 highest-paid running backs for 2023, per

Rank Player Team AAV
1 Christian McCaffrey 49ers $16,015,853
2 Alvin Kamara Saints $15,000,000
3 Derrick Henry Titans $12,500,000
4 Nick Chubb Browns $12,200,000
5 Joe Mixon Bengals $12,000,000
6 Aaron Jones Packers $11,500,000
7 Saquon Barkley Giants $10,091,000
  Tony Pollard Cowboys $10,091,000
  Josh Jacobs Raiders $10,091,000
10 James Conner Cardinals $7,000,000

It isn’t clear exactly what type of long-term contract would appease Barkley’s demands, but he would likely be eyeing a deal similar to Derrick Henry’s (four years, $50 million) at a bare minimum.

And if he is looking for a contract in the range of Christian McCaffrey (four years, $64 million) or Alvin Kamara (five years, $75 million), it’s easy to understand why the Giants would be reluctant to dole that out. After all, running backs tend to get injured frequently and thus have shorter shelf lives than other positions.

Saquon Barkley stats

Of course, it can be argued that Barkley was one of the Giants’ keys to success during their resurgent 2022 season that saw them go 11-5-1 and win a playoff game for the first time since 2011. He posted 1,650 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns for the team during the 2022 regular season while tying a career-high in touches with 352.

That said, Barkley has only played at least 16 games in a season twice in his five-year career. He has frequently been banged up and has missed playing time as a result; that, in turn, has impacted his statistical output.

Below is a look at his stats by season in each of his five years with the Giants.

Year Games Carries Rushing yards Rushing TDs Yards/carry Catches Receiving yards Receiving TDs
2018 16 261 1,307 11 5.0 91 721 4
2019 13 217 1,003 6 4.6 52 438 2
2020 2 19 34 0 1.8 6 60 0
2021 13 162 593 2 3.7 41 263 2
2022 16 295 1,312 10 4.4 57 338 0

There’s no denying that Barkley, when healthy, is a top-tier running back who does a lot to help Daniel Jones and the New York offense succeed. The Giants are just going to have to decide if he is worth the hefty price tag he is seeking and whether they want to risk losing him for any amount of time to a holdout.

BENDER: Patrick Mahomes entering the veteran phase of NFL superstardom

Giants RB depth chart

Below is a look at the Giants’ depth chart for 2023, which is topped by Barkley and contains some familiar names:

Rank Player
1 Saquon Barkley
2 Matt Breida
3 Eric Gray
4 Gary Brightwell
5 Jashaun Corbin

If Barkley does hold out, the Giants are going to be thin at running back. They have a respected veteran backup on the roster behind Barkley in Matt Breida, but he has been injury-prone during his career.

Meanwhile, fifth-round rookie Eric Gray and 2021 sixth-round pick Gary Brightwell are relatively inexperienced, so trusting either as a full-time replacement for Barkley would come with some risk.

There are plenty of veteran running backs available in free agency, so the Giants could always sign a player like Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette or Ezekiel Elliott if Barkley holds out. Still, none are as talented as Barkley at this point in their respective careers.

Saquon Barkley career earnings

Barkley has earned just over $38.6 million in his career to date, per Thus, the $10.1 million he would make playing on the franchise tag is no small sum for the 26-year-old back.

Below is a year-by-year breakdown of how much he has made during his NFL career, with his rookie season being the campaign during which he received the most money.

Year Earnings
2018 $21,247,092
2019 $1,897,943
2020 $3,405,886
2021 $4,833,829
2022 $7,217,000
Total $38,601,750

If Barkley plays on the franchise tag, his career earnings would increase to $48.7 million. If he signs a contract extension, that number could rise dramatically depending on how much money he is given upon signing.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement here

Must See

More in Football