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(Photo by Jeff Auger - JSN)

How the Failed Saquon Extension Impacts the Giants and Their Future

When you think of the New York Football Giants, one of the first players that comes to mind is 26-year old, Saquon Barkley. The Giants 2018 first round pick has been a crucial piece on the field for the G-Men and a leader in the locker room. 

During the 2022 regular season, Saquon, on the ground, recorded 10 touchdowns (ninth in league), 1,312 yards (fourth in league), and 295 rushing attempts (fourth in league). In the air, Saquon recorded 57 receptions for 338 yards. 

Thanks to Saquon’s performance, the Giants made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and scraped together a Wild Card victory. Once the season ended for the G-Men some outside and inside the organization started to talk about what the future holds for Barkley and the Giants.

With Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawerence and other players needing new contracts, the question that was being raised was who was going to be tagged? As we know now, Saquon received the tag on March 9 with the opportunity to earn an extension by July 17.

Unfortunately, the Giants and Saquon failed to agree to an extension before the Monday 4pm deadline, leaving Barkley to play the 2023 season on the franchise tag ($10.1 million). Shortly before the extension fallout was released, Barkley posted a five word message on twitter.

There has been a lot of speculation of why a deal did not get done between the two sides. Some are saying from the Giants perspective that Barkley hasn’t proven himself enough, as he has only had two out of five good seasons that were injury free and high production. The Giants weren’t ready to commit big money to a player who hasn’t been totally healthy and who plays a position where he is taking shots all game long.

The Giants also saw how the running back market had tanked in the offseason and weren’t willing to match previous offers and “reset” the market. 

From Saquon’s perspective, it seems like he wanted to get paid and the Giants weren’t matching what he believed he was worth. This scenario isn’t the first time Saquon has rejected offers he believed weren’t enough, as he turned down several extension offers since October. 

The Giants first offered Barkley around $12 million a season, during their bye week this past fall.

The Giants then (allegedly) offered north of $14 million before the franchise tag was applied on Barkley, but it was never fully confirmed. Saquon himself denied the allegations of the offer on Twitter.

Earlier this week it was reported that the Giants bumped their offer up to $19.5 million guaranteed (which is less than two franchise tags). Barkley clearly didn’t accept this offer as he and his agents felt like they needed more.

The Giants final offer was in the range of $11-$11.5 million per year with guaranteed money between $22-$23 million, but this amount yet again wasn’t enough in the eyes of Barkley and his agents.

It is alleged that Barkley was looking for around $16 million a year heading into negotiations, an amount that would have him as the second highest paid running back in the league. However, reports are that Barkley was looking for $1-$2 million more than the Giants final offer and more guaranteed money.

It is almost ironic that a deal didn’t get done between the Giants and Saquon, after Barkley had mentioned back in January that he wasn’t trying to reset the running back market when it came to his extension. 

However, when you compare the top paid running backs in the league, the money Barkley was asking for was definitely up there. 

Christian McCaffrey $16 million per year
Alvin Kamara $15 million per year
Dalvin Cook $12.6 million per year
Derrick Henry $12.5 million per year
Nick Chubb $12.2 million per year

The extension failure brings two potential turnouts for New York and Saquon. Potential one, Saquon plays the 2023 season on the franchise tag and works to get an extension after the season, or potential two, Saquon sits out for a game or more. 

If Saquon sits, the Giants will have to rely on Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and rookie Eric Gray to pick up Barkley’s production. Of these three, Breida would be the most reliable number one back for the Giants, as in 2022 he recorded 54 rushing attempts for 220 yards and one touchdown. 

Brightwell would be a solid number two, as in 2022 he recorded 31 rushing attempts for 141 yards and one touchdown. Gray hasn't had any league experience yet, so depending on how he adjusts to the change of pace will determine his place in the depth chart and playing time. 

As for Saquon’s presence in the locker room, that is one the Giants will miss dearly until Barkley decides he wants to join the team. No one will replace his leadership, but it can only be hoped that others rise in his absence. 

Looking at the more optimistic side, if Barkley does play and plays the whole season the Giants will get their star running back for a bargain at $10.1 million. Barkley being on the field will only benefit the Giants, giving them another weapon on the field with Darren Waller and their loaded receiver corp. 

The Giants will also have the opportunity to evaluate Barkley’s production and decide whether they want to tag Barkley at the end of the season, sign him to a long term extension or release him depending on his impact.

If Barkley plays or not this season, his future in New York is still in question. Will this failed extension sever relationships from Barkley's perspective? Will Barkley decide to move on after the 2023 season? Will there be enough money in a year to keep him on the Giants?

A lot can happen between now and the start of the season, the only thing left to do is wait and see.