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New York Giants ‘weren’t really that close’ on Saquon Barkley contract despite $12M per year offer

Saquon Barkley
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Back in 2018, the New York Giants selected running back Saquon Barkley second overall in the NFL Draft. Early on, the selection paid off, with Barkley winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors while gaining over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. He instantly looked like he belonged in the conversation to be considered one of the best running backs in football.

His second season was much of the same, before a high ankle sprain sidelined the former Penn State star for three games. But this setback was nothing like the torn ACL he’d suffer in 2020. Barkley was able to return in 2021, but he wasn’t quite the same, with a career-low 3.7 YPC.

Heading into the 2022 season, with the Giants now under an entirely new regime, it wasn’t surprising that general manager Joe Schoen and Barkley’s agency couldn’t agree on the 25-year-old’s value as he headed into the final year of his contract.

Still, the Giants’ new decision-makers quickly saw Barkley’s value and reportedly offered him a contract worth roughly $12 million per season during the team’s bye week in November, per Ralph Vacchiano.

On Monday, the Giants’ GM commented on these reported discussions, without confirming the rumored amounts.

“We were off on the value and again, we said we would circle back up at the end of the season and then continue those conversations. But that time of year, we weren’t really that close, I don’t think.”

New York Giants GM Joe Schoen on Saquon Barkley contract discussions

Yet, as Schoen also mentioned, Barkley is a player the Giants “would like to have back.” The two sides are expected to resume contract negotiations in the coming weeks.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023: From 1-250, led by Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady

Saquon Barkley wants to be part of the New York Giants ‘for life’

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

When Barkley had his chance to speak on his pending free agency, he cautioned against the idea that he wants to set or reset the market. For context, San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey is the NFL’s highest-paid running back, earning an average of $16 million per season. When Barkley speaks of “resetting a market”, CMC’s deal is the number to keep in mind.

Well, if the Giants reportedly offered around $12M, per Vacchiano, but as Schoen indicated, wasn’t close to enough, what is the right amount?

Vacchiano’s sources have continued to suggest Barkley actually does want close to $16M on average, placing him near, but not quite above, McCaffrey’s earnings.

While these figures may seem like a large gap, Barkley is insistent upon his desire to stick with the team that drafted him, as he noted on Saturday following the team’s loss.

“I wanted to show them the guy they drafted is still here. I hope I did that. Everyone knows I would love to be a Giant for life, but I really can’t give 100% answers. Sometime this week, I’ll have a conversation with my agent Kim and see what’s up.”

Saquon Barkley on upcoming contract discussions

As he said, Barkley doesn’t think the team’s Divisional Round exit was his final time in a Giants uniform. Based on these reports, the Giants don’t think so, either.

No matter what, Barkley will get paid this offseason, likely as a top-five player at his position, which is what a franchise tag would pay. Whoever signs Barkley, whether it’s for $12M or $16M or somewhere in between, the total cost won’t matter to the team that has him in the lineup on game day next season.

Related: 3 offseason moves New York Giants must make to become contenders