After carrying the New York Giants to their first playoff appearance in six years, running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones are poised to cash in this offseason. While both players are expected back in 2023, the cost of retaining both remains up in the air.
New York remains opposed to using the franchise tag on Jones, preferring to sign him to a multi-year extension. If the 25-year-old quarterback doesn’t receive the exclusive tag this offseason, it would allow the Giants to use it on Barkley.
- Saquon Barkley stats (2022): 1,650 scrimmage yards, 10 total touchdowns, 4.4 ypc
Financially, it’s the best strategy for New York. Applying the tag to Barkley, providing him with $10.09 million fully guaranteed, only leaves. that $10 million cap hit against the NFL salary cap is much more team-friendly than a $32.42 million tag that Jones would require.
In the likeliest outcome, Giants’ general manager Joe Schoen applies the franchise tag on Barkley with Jones signed to a multi-year contract. It ensures both players return for the 2023 season, with New York also provided the flexibility to move off either player without any significant long-term ramifications if one of the two doesn’t repeat their success next fall.
However, the projected cost of signing the Pro Bowl running back to an extension and the 26-year-old’s interest in staying with New York might leave the door open to long-term deals for both.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan took an in-depth look at New York’s situation with Barkley and Jones. Offering insight on the running back, the Giants beat writer disclosed that many in the NFL believe a deal could be worked out at $14 million per season.
- Saquon Barkley career stats: 4,249 rushing yards, 37 total touchdowns, 4.5 ypc
A $14 million average annual value would rank fourth among running backs in 2023. While Barkley would fall short of the $15 million figures held by Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott, Raanan notes that it isn’t believed the Giants’ running back doesn’t need to reset the market for his position in order for a deal to be signed.
All of this bodes well for New York. It could immediately place the franchise tag on Barkley, keeping him off the open market, then work towards a long-term deal. If the two sides can agree to an extension in the neighborhood of a $14 million AAV, the star running back is under team control for multiple seasons.
If not, Barkley still returns to the Giants in 2023 and they can avoid the risks of multi-year contracts backfiring with running backs. No matter what path New York chooses, both Barkley and Jones will likely be leading the Giants’ offense in 2023.