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New York Giants, Saquon Barkley facing ‘clear gap’ in contract negotiations

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley re-emerged in a contract year as one of the best playmakers in football. Now one of the top NFL free agents in 2023, Barkley could be playing for a new team next season.

Selected with the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley burst onto the scene as one of the best running backs in the NFL. From 2018-’19, he totaled 3,469 scrimmage yards with 23 touchdowns and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

  • Saquon Barkley stats (2022): 1,650 scrimmage yards, 10 total touchdowns, 4.4 ypc

Injuries derailed him over the next two years. Playing only 15 games from 2020-’21, Barkley managed to compile just a 3.5 yards per carry average with 950 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns on 228 touches.

Related: Saquon Barkley contract asking price disclosed

Everything changed with the arrival of head coach Brian Daboll. New York’s star running back stayed healthy and became the focal point of the offense. He racked up 1,650 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns, becoming more effective with a 4.4 ypc.

The Giants attempted to negotiate a contract extension during the regular season, but negotiations during the bye week yielded minimal progress. Months later, it appears the two sides are no closer to an agreement.

Related: New York Giants expected to let Saquon Barkley hit free agency

During an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up, NFL insider Jeff Darlington disclosed that a “clear gap” remains between the Giants and Barkley.

  • Saquon Barkley career stats: 4,249 rushing yards, 37 total touchdowns, 4.5 ypc

While Barkley doesn’t expect to make the $16 million salary being earned by Christian McCaffrey, he is seeking a deal that will make him one of the highest-paid NFL players in 2023. With Barkley wanting a multi-year pact with at least a $14 million AAV and the Giants reportedly offering millions of dollars less, the likelihood of an agreement is diminishing.

Related: Cost of Daniel Jones’ extension for New York Giants revealed

Previously, the franchise tag seemed to be on the table for Barkley as a way for New York to keep him off the open market. However, the contract demands made by quarterback Daniel Jones are far higher than the Giants’ front office anticipated.

As a result, New York will likely need to keep its franchise tag available to use on Jones. It ultimately could push Barkley into free agency, putting the Giants in danger of losing their best player.