The New York Giants have been handing out cash in the 2023 offseason, unlike just about every other team. They have made some massive moves with in-house players, but Saquon Barkley remains without a long-term deal as we head into training camp.
Barkley is going to report to Giants training camp. He and the team reached an agreement on a revised one-year deal that has incentives but a base value of $10.091 million. That’s certainly not a small chunk of change for anyone, but for a player of Barkley’s caliber, a one-year deal worth just north of $10 million is insulting.
This news came shortly after some of the top running backs in the league who are in the midst of contract disputes (players like Josh Jacobs and Austin Ekeler, among others) allegedly got together on a Zoom call and discussed their current situations and how to proceed. It’s not that these players have poor representation and it’s also not that they’re not contributing on the field. This year’s free agent running back crop was incredible from top to bottom, including the likes of Barkley, Jacobs, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, and other veterans like Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and others. At this point, not a single one of those players has received a contract or extension offer.
At one point this offseason, Austin Ekeler — whose stats look more like a wide receiver’s — asked for a trade if he didn’t get a new contract. He’s apparently since backed off of that demand, but remains one of the most underpaid players in the entire NFL.
This is a running back issue, and things have come to a head in 2023. So many prominent players are getting shafted by their respective teams all at once, but there might not be a more glaring example than the New York Giants, who are throwing out cash this offseason and backing up the Brink’s Truck for a wide variety of players.
General manager Joe Schoen, who came over from the Buffalo Bills in the 2022 offseason, has made the following moves since he came aboard:
- Paid QB Daniel Jones $92M guaranteed
- Paid OT Andrew Thomas $67M guaranteed
- Paid DL Dexter Lawrence $60M guaranteed
- Paid LB Bobby Okereke $21.8M guaranteed
- Paid OL Mark Glowinski $11.4M guaranteed
He also gave tight end Darren Waller a signing bonus worth nearly $10 million after the Giants acquired Waller in a trade with the Raiders. His deal to give Saquon Barkley just $10.091 million with incentives is horrendous when you take into account all of these other moves getting made.
Is this bad business for the Giants? I think most of the rest of the NFL would tell you it’s not because the shelf life at the running back position is so short. Running backs in this modern era of football are going to have to do some painful crawling so others can walk in the future. They are going to have to prove that their bodies can handle playing for longer periods of time so teams aren’t so hesitant to pay them.
Either that or the NFL is going to have to figure out an alternate solution, like putting two option years on rookie running back contracts worth the NFL’s franchise tag that are performance-based. I don’t know what the perfect solution is, but this is a staggering issue currently.
By the end of this season, Barkley will have made less than $49 million in his six seasons with the Giants. He will have spent what the NFL clearly deems to be his “prime” years making a fraction of what some of the league’s top playmakers are getting on new contracts. Among current NFL players, 58 have received higher guarantees on their contracts (more than $49 million) than Barkley has made in his career.
The New York Giants’ latest contracts given out to players like Lawrence, Jones, and Thomas indicate exactly how they value Barkley.