In 2018, the New York Giants, then led by GM Dave Gettleman, made Saquon Barkley the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. Despite the presence of an aging Eli Manning on the roster, selecting a running back over a quarterback, in this case, Sam Darnold, drew a lot of criticism at the time.
Yet despite having much more success, even if there have been some injuries along the way, the former Offensive Rookie of the Year has had much more trouble landing a contract that reflects his value.
Ditto for Josh Jacobs and the Las Vegas Raiders, who led the NFL in rushing last season, but was set for free agency after making two Pro Bowl appearances and earning an All-Pro selection across four years.
Sometimes deadlines spur action. That wasn’t the case here for Barkley or Jacobs with their respective teams.
Neither players were able to reach long-term extensions by the 4 PM ET Monday deadline. Both are now expected to play under the franchise tag but will likely avoid training camp, not wanting to risk a serious injury.
Since neither are officially under contract until they physically sign the tag, their teams cannot fine or penalize them for their absence in camp. Barkley is expected to be a holdout, and we’ll likely see the same with Jacobs too.
With his five-year rookie contract expiring at the end of last season, Barkley had been working with the Giants’ front office trying to secure a long-term extension, knowing the Bronx native didn’t want to play anywhere else.
Placing a priority on extending QB Daniel Jones, who was also set for free agency, the Giants opted to place the $10.09 million franchise tag on Barkley instead. This allowed them several months to exclusively negotiate with the 26-year-old’s agency instead of his camp being allowed to discuss a contract with 31 other NFL teams too.
- Saquon Barkley’s stats last season: 1,312 rushing yards, 10 TD, 338 receiving yards
Nevertheless, the Giants’ plans worked from their perspective. By the looks of it, they’ll be able to have Barkley play out the season at a fair rate, and they didn’t have to commit a ridiculous amount of money to a position with a shorter shelf life than others. Even if they did so at the risk of irritating one of their best players. But as Barkley says, “It is what it is.”
The next question becomes when Barkley or Jacobs show up to their teams to participate in the upcoming season. Both will want to be ready to roar by Week 1 but may also need some time to ensure they’re in peak football shape.