Proving that Giants’ Saquon Barkley may be the “exception” to the trend

Proving that Giants’ Saquon Barkley may be the “exception” to the trend

For every example of a team regretting signing a second contract, Saquon Barkley stands out as making something out of nothing for the Giants.

If the leading rushers of recent Super Bowl winners are little known, most of the offensive weapons surrounding Barkley can only be called “unheard of.”

Paying running backs big money is one of the most divisive issues in the NFL, but what happens when the player exceeds the tag?

The first round of extension negotiations between Barkley, 25, and the Giants, which took place earlier this month, were “encouraging,” according to sources familiar with the talks. A deal was never close to being finalized, as first reported by ESPN , but the two sides agreed because of the time constraints created by the weekly and in-season deadlines, rather than because the terms of the multiple offers exchanged were far from over. The post has learned.

Saquon Barkley celebrates during the Giants’ win over the Texans.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“I think you have to expand beyond what he does on offense as a running back,” said Mike Tannenbaum, who has served on both sides of the table as a former NFL general manager and former agent. “I’m working to collect good players and people, and it’s hard for me to think that they will be a better organization without him. He is their best player, by far.’

The injury problems and reduced production after the extensions of Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey, as well as the free agent deal of Le’Veon Bell, is a mountain of red flags.

Are there exceptions to the rule? Maybe for Barkley, the NFC’s leading rusher, who has accounted for 36.5 percent of the Giants’ yards and 31.5 percent of their touchdowns in a franchise-changing 7-2 start. Or maybe not, because two of Barkley’s first four seasons were marred by injuries.

“Imagine where this Giants team would be without him — they wouldn’t have a chance,” said Tannenbaum, founder of the NFL think tank “The 33rd Team.” “In this situation – due to the way the team is built – he is the exception. Zeke is more dynamic than Elliott.’

The top of the running back market remained stagnant after McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million contract ($16 million per year) in April 2020. Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Nick Chubb were all signed to good recent deals. initial returns

“That means I did something good in the week leading up to that interview,” Barkley told The Post. “When it comes up again, we will enjoy it. Until then, I can only focus on winning all the games we can.”

Asked to be Barkley’s fictitious representative, former NFL agent Joel Corry,’s contract expert, said his initial request would be for his client to be the NFL’s highest-paid running back, at about $17 million a year over four or five years. the years With Barkley’s durability concerns expected to be waived, his actual target would be an average of $15 million per year — more than McCaffrey’s $30 million guaranteed, including a portion of the third year.

“Saquon is the best running back in the NFL,” Corry said of his apparent agent on the field. “He’s having a career year. He’s doing it with less help than any other paid running back because there’s no other skill position on the team that needs to be considered from a defensive game-planning perspective.

“But if I’m a team, I’m saying: ‘Prove it to me. It’s a start, but what will happen next year?'”

Proving that Giants’ Saquon Barkley may be the “exception” to the trend
Saquon Barkley may be the exception to the rule of paying running backs big.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Corry set Barkley’s settlement floor at $13 million a year, which is “more or less Nick Chubb’s adjusted deal.” [increasing] salary cap” and is still a better option than playing on franchise tags in 2023 and 2024. The tag is the Giants’ leverage to keep them out of the market, where the Bears ($110.8 million in cap space and need for players) pose a threat. In that case, Barkley would earn about $22 million over two seasons.

Barkley wants to be mentioned in the same breath as running greats Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith and Adrian Peterson one day.

“I’m a player. I am a versatile weapon. But at the end of the day, for me, it’s just people I learn from,” Barkley said. “Those are the guys I’m after.”

Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley
Getty Images

A league source said Barkley would ultimately have to determine his market value in New York and being a giant for life over the long term versus a slightly bigger contract elsewhere. Tannenbaum suggested a “measured commitment” to the average of the top five running backs ($14.2 million per year).

“There’s another intangible that’s really important,” Tannenbaum said. “Your locker room is going to look at the people you sign to an extension, and if you start paying people outside of your organization before you pay someone like him, it’s sending the wrong message. That doesn’t mean you have to overpay.”

Critics of stretching running backs often point to the fact that the leader of the winning team in the last 13 Super Bowls was paid an average salary of $1.09 million during the championship season. A one-size-fits-all approach with no room for nuance doesn’t apply to the Giants, as most of the teams listed lack the same passing attack.

“Nobody wants to make the move,” said one NFL running backs coach, “but everybody’s looking for McCaffrey or Barkley.”

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