Little surprise as Giants begin OTAs without Saquon Barkley

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates after making a touchdown run against the Tennessee Titans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Nashville.
AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Monday kicked off the start of phase three of the Giants’ offseason program with players reporting for OTAs, something that the Giants documented a bit of via their social media. 

Someone not in East Rutherford this week is Saquon Barkley, who was not expected to be there according to Newsday. That comes as little surprise to the Giants’ brain trust and shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that has followed the ongoing stalemate between the team and running back. 

In case you’re not caught up, the Sparknotes version is simple: Barkley has reportedly turned down multiple offers from the Giants and he was then franchise tagged by the Giants after they signed Daniel Jones to a long-term extension in March. He has not signed his tender offer and has not been able to be at the team facility.

The two sides have continued to work towards a resolution, but no deal has come. What remains a bit ambiguous is what Barkley is exactly looking for in a new deal. 

His agent, Kimberly Miale, recently shot down a report that he was looking for $16 million a year. “That is not true,” she wrote on Twitter in response to a person on the social media platform. 

The OTAs going on for the next few weeks are voluntary, so it still seems a bit premature to fully worry, but it is fair to start to imagine what the Giants would look like without Barkley for next season. The Giants have remained tight-lipped about the situation giving brief answers and general manager Joe Schoen was short when he was pressed if he expected Barkley on the field for the start of the season back in April. 

“You’d have to ask him,” Schoen said back on April  20. “I’m not sure what his plan is. I haven’t talked to him in probably three weeks.” 

The running back played a large role in New York’s surprise run to the Divisional Championship Game and he had a return to form from his rookie season. His 1,312 yards for the Giants were fourth-best in the NFL and he scored 10 touchdowns in a season he was named AP Comeback Player of the Year. 

New York does have a few running back options under contract, but far from matching the production that Barkley had last season. Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell return and the Giants drafted Eric Gray in April, but the rookie wasn’t expected to be a Barkley replacement.

The Giants could find someone on the free-agent market on a short-term deal at a cheaper rate to platoon with the backs they already have while they figure out a longer-term solution. That could still be the route the Giants take even if Barkley balks and signs his tender offer. 

The Giants would be open to allowing him to play on the one-year deal, though Barkley would rather avoid that. 

The situation remains fluid and there is still plenty of time between now and July when the window to closes for them to sign Barkley to a long-term extension. But it’s becoming harder and harder not to at least contemplate what the New York’s plan B is without Barkley.