It certainly was a difficult situation to traverse, but the New York Giants came away as major winners in the Saquon Barkley negotiation.
In a day and age where the running back position has been devalued as low as it has been, the Giants were in a difficult situation. Letting a Pro Bowl back be upset over missing out on a long-term deal wouldn’t be good for the locker room, but paying a running back top dollar wouldn’t be smart from a financial sense.
New York’s decision instead relied on short-term relief for the problem, while giving them the flexibility to build their playoff team the right way.
Saquon Barkley’s one-year deal with the Giants gave him the $10.1 million he would have made on the franchise tag, with incentives to reach over $11 million on the overall deal. A $2 million signing bonus also helped entice the former Penn State product to arrive at camp happy, if not entirely pleased with how the situation that led to the deal unfolded.
But the inner workings of the deal clearly showed New York’s leverage.
As part of the agreement, Barkley is still able to be franchise tagged again following the 2023 season. He’ll receive a two-year average of more than he was asking for over the last few weeks in negotiations, but the long-term security many NFL players look for is not something the running back will have over the next couple of seasons.
In the end, the clear winners of the entire negotiation process were the Giants’ front office and general manager Joe Schoen.
After Barkley denied the last offer from New York last Monday, there was no reason for the team to come back to the negotiating table. Instead, the team showed how much they cared for their home-grown talent and continued to try and find common ground with an agreement that would have the running back in camp. By doing so, the Giants protected themselves (with the help of Saquon) in the long term by not having to give a running back entering the end of his prime a multi-year extension.
Schoen did not go above the market value for the overall position and sent a clear message to agents and other teams that the Giants would not spend money foolishly just to make fans and certain players happy.
Of course, it’s not like Barkley had much of a choice either. Without a long-term deal, the running back could have still been tagged next season and made a couple million less than if he agreed with the team earlier. He would either have to play or sit on a one-year deal regardless which made his choices very slim to find an advantageous result.
Much of the running back’s incentives though are also tied to team success. Those incentives wouldn’t have been available if he played on the franchise tag either. New York’s problems aren’t over with Barkley either, especially if the star continues to dominate throughout the 2023 season. But the ball is now firmly in the team’s control knowing that they won’t do anything that will sink their chances for future success.
Having a bad contract on the roster could cripple any team’s current and long-term success. The Giants learned that with Kenny Golladay over the last few years. It seems they are determined more than ever to not have that happen again.
Schoen knew that Barkley and his representation backed themselves into a corner. Instead of forcibly winning the negotiation which would have been damaging to the overall relationship, New York’s general manager stayed in contact, and eventually came to an agreement that allowed the organization to breathe a huge sigh of relief for the present, and future success of the franchise.
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