After much fanfare and consternation from everyone involved, the New York Giants and superstar running back Saquon Barkley have come to terms on a deal. It’s something that had to happen, but even as recently as a few days ago, it seemed like the Giants and Barkley were far apart on a potential deal.
Barkley signed the contract as it was offered under the franchise tag in March for $10.1 million dollars. Another $900,000 or so was added in addition to that in incentives he can earn throughout the season. While Barkley was looking for a longterm deal after his incredible 2023 season, injury concerns were top of mind for the Giants. This deal puts him near the top of running back contracts in the league. While the Giants can franchise tag him again next year, they seemingly wouldn’t want to do that. NFL rules require an extra 20% goes to the franchise tag if the same player is tagged in back-to-back seasons. Essentially, Barkley is trying to repeat this year what he did last year. If the Giants don’t pay him, there’s a very good chance another team will, or Barkley’s next franchise tag will be over $13 million dollars. Barkley could’ve taken the longterm deal that the Giants offered, but Barkley clearly though he could’ve done better.
At the end of the day, this is as much a referendum on the state of the running back position as it is anything else. Teams that pay top dollar for running backs not only don’t win the Super Bowl, but typically don’t get particularly close. The Eagles and Chiefs both proved that last year. Neither team had a particularly strong running game, yet they were both clearly the top two teams in the league.
However you slice this, however, this is good news for both the Giants and Barkley. The Giants get their best offensive player signed before training camp started, and Barkley gets more money in incentives and is one season away from (likely) getting the contract he believes he deserves.