Saquon Barkley has said repeatedly this offseason he’d like to be back with the Giants. With days to go until the deadline for franchise-tagged players to reach long-term deals, however, the star running back is prepared to stay away for a while, and is considering a Week 1 holdout, according to ESPN.
“Barkley has made it clear the franchise tag is undesirable,” Dianna Russini reported Wednesday. “I’m told his availability for Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys will be in serious question if he does not get a long-term deal from the Giants.”
This isn’t necessarily a new stance from Barkley. The former first-round draft pick previously hinted he’d consider sitting out into the 2023 season absent a contract extension, and he’s yet to sign the $10.9 million franchise tag he received early this offseason. But now that the deadline for new deals is approaching, Barkley could be making a last-gasp effort to apply pressure in negotiations.
Any tagged player who doesn’t sign a multiyear deal by July 17 at 4 p.m. ET will be required to play the 2023 season under the one-year tag, or forfeit the tag’s guaranteed salary by sitting out the season. As of this week, Barkley and the Giants “remain at a stalemate” in talks, per ESPN. Both sides have reportedly rejected — or rescinded — contract offers this offseason.
Barkley is reportedly seeking more than $14M per year on a new deal, which would make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid RBs. The Giants extended an offer to Barkley worth $13 million annually and included $26 million over the first two years, according to Pro Football Talk. That offer was made prior to the deadline to apply the franchise tag, but came with the message from the team that it would rescind the offer if it applied the tag. After that report was issued, however, Barkley took to social media to dispute that offer from New York.
Only two other backs currently average more than $14 million per year — the Saints‘ Alvin Kamara and 49ers‘ Christian McCaffrey. The Giants veteran was a centerpiece of coach Brian Daboll’s offense in a 2022 rejuvenation, totaling 1,650 yards from scrimmage, but was limited by injuries for much of the previous two seasons.