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The harsh reality of the NFL is setting in for Saquon Barkley. Teams don’t want to spend big money and give long-term contracts to running backs. The New York Giants placed the franchise tag on Barkley this offseason, but he has yet to sign, according to reports.
According to Newsday, Barkley cannot participate in the Giants offseason program until he signs, which he does not plan to do. He is holding out for a long-term deal.
The team and Barkley have until July 15 to work out a contract or Barkley will have to play under the tag, according to ESPN. That would pay him just over $10 million for 2023.
According to multiple reports, Saquon Barkley wants “at least” $14 million per year on a multi-year deal. But the Giants haven’t offered more than $12 million per season.
The highest-paid NFL running back on a total contract basis is the Saints’ Alvin Kamara. He signed a five-year $75 million deal just before the start of the 2020 season. But only $33.8 million of that was guaranteed.
The highest guaranteed deal went to San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey. He originally signed the deal with the Carolina Panthers, a four-year $64 million contract with just over $38 million in guarantees. McCaffrey’s $16 million average annual value (AAV) is the highest among NFL running backs.
It seems as though Saquon Barkley isn’t demanding McCaffrey money, but he wants more than the large group behind McCaffrey. McCaffrey and Kamara are the only running backs making more than $13 million AAV. That’s likely why the Giants are sticking at the $12 million number.
Miles Sanders and David Montgomery are the only big-name running backs to sign long-term deals this offseason. Sanders got a four-year deal for about $6.3 million AAV with the Panthers and Montgomery got three years at $6 million AAV from the Lions.
Teams just aren’t handing out big-money, long-term contracts to running backs. The Raiders also tagged their star back, Josh Jacobs, this offseason. So, too, did the Dallas Cowboys with Tony Pollard before releasing Zeke Elliott.
Barkley’s age isn’t doing him any favors, either. He enters the 2023 season at 26 years old. A four-year contract takes him until his age-30 season. Running backs don’t generally enjoy a ton of good years after their late 20s.
That’s why he’s making this stand now. He probably only has one big NFL contract left in his future. After accumulating over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and ten touchdowns in 2022, he needs to cash in now.
But the Giants are hesitant, for good reason.
It’ll be interesting to see how this ultimately plays out.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak