Saquon Barkley franchise tag latest: Giants not tagging star RB, will be free agent

Saquon Barkley Giants
Saquon Barkley
AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

The New York Giants are not franchise-tagging Saquon Barkley, per multiple reports ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, meaning the star running back will become a free agent.

General manager Joe Schoen made it known that he and the Giants would speak with Barkley’s representation at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, which ran from Feb. 29-March 4 about a potential long-term contract. That did not yield a resolution.

The franchise tag remained an option — a deal would have come in at roughly $12.1 million to keep the star running back with the Giants for at least the 2024 season. Schoen and the organization had repeatedly hinted that they would want to avoid that route for a second consecutive year. 

There was no indication that Barkley would have played under such a deal, either. There were insinuations that another franchise tag would destroy the relationship with a team he has often implored about spending the entirety of his career with. 

At 27 years old, Barkley is understandably looking to cash in on a big payday given the short shelf lives of running backs, but there are obvious concerns that come with doling out such a deal for the Giants. 

(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Injury issues have been prevalent throughout the Penn State product’s career, including ankle injuries that forced him out of three games last season and four in 2021. He also tore his ACL and MCL in 2020 which limited him to just two games. 

The Giants also have other holes to address on the roster, most notably on the offensive line and — shortly, potentially — at quarterback.

When healthy, though, Barkley is still one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL. He managed to put up 962 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns in 14 games behind one of the worst offensive lines in league history. Talent such as his is not so readily available. 

From Barkley’s vantage point, the open waters of free agency could be alluring despite saying he wants to be “a Giant for life.” 

Schoen has some considerable work to do to make the Giants a legitimate contender and Barkley could help a young team like the Houston Texans, already equipped with a franchise quarterback in CJ Stroud, take that next step. 

The start of the new league year is March 13 when free agents can officially begin signing with new teams.

For more on Saquon Barkley and the Giants, visit AMNY.com