The New York Giants “messed up” in their handling of the Saquon Barkley contract, former NFL player and current NFL analyst Ross Tucker told the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast on Monday.
“I think they messed up here, and I’ll tell you why,” Tucker, host Ross Tucker football podcast, said. “I think on paper, especially given his injury history, it makes perfect sense. Take him this year for $10 million, have him for the whole year, take him again next year, $12 million or whatever, have him for the whole year. And before then, you move on or you draft another running back or whatever, right? Because what are the odds that Saquon is still explosive, still healthy, still productive in 2025? Totally get that mindset.”
However, Tucker said “the locker room matters.” We’ve already seen Xavier McKinney express strong support for Barkley.
“What I would argue is that they were close enough that I think it would have been prudent to get that deal done,” Tucker said. “Give him a million more a year if it’s done. Give him two million more guaranteed if it’s done because the games aren’t played on paper, the dressing room matters.
“The atmosphere in the locker room, the feeling that the Giants are taking care of their guy. Look, they took care of themselves [Dexter] Lawrence, they took care of Daniel Jones. The Giants are usually very good at that, but I, I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out. Maybe Saquon is mad and fired up and comes out and has a good year, he’s motivated, maybe it works out. However, I think the positive sentiment from rewarding Saquon and getting that contract done, rather than having this distraction, this discussion and the potential of him missing games, I think it would have been worth the extra million a year, maybe even the extra 2 million a year, and certainly the extra two or 3 million guaranteed.”
NFLPA President JC Tretter was on Tucker’s podcast recently and brought up the idea of players fake or exaggerate damages to create leverage. Tretter said:
“You have to try to create as much leverage as you possibly can in any situation,” Tretter said. “And that’s the hard thing about the franchise tag or being limited in movement because it reduces your leverage. But then you have to find creative ways to create leverage elsewhere. And I think we’ve seen problems. Now, I don’t think anyone would ever say they were fake injuries, but we’ve seen players who didn’t want to be where they are at the moment have injuries that made them unable to train and play.
“But you can’t be fined and you can’t be punished for not reporting. So there are such problems. I don’t think I’m ever allowed to recommend that, at least in public. But I think every player has to find a way to build leverage to try to get a fair deal. And that’s really what all these guys are looking for is to be compensated fairly.”
Tucker referred to the concept Tretter apparently endorsed as “holding in,” and said he understands that.
“When I say hold in, it really means that you report to the team, you’re there, but then you don’t practice, or you choose to believe that no matter what ailment you’re dealing with, because there’s always a player that has something that you don’t want to practice through. Right? Whether you want to call it fake damage, exaggerate damage, that’s really up to you,” Tucker said.
“A lot of fans have a huge problem with that, with the idea of a player faking an exaggerated injury. Totally get it. Totally understand. And by the way, growing up the way I did, where I did, I would have felt that way until I was 22 and playing in the NFL. And if I never played in the NFL, I’d still feel that way. When you’re actually in it and you see how the sausage is made and you see the borderline unethical, the way the teams sometimes treat players from a health point of view for whatever reason, but usually to save money or get them to play through an injury, I really struggle to imagine you’d find a current or former player who would have a problem with a player.”
Tucker added that Barkley “isn’t in a scenario where a hold-in makes a lot of sense, unless his representatives wanted to inform the Giants that Saquon might end up being a little too scared to play in the first few games unless he gets X, Y or Z.”
Tucker said he didn’t think playing away games would hurt Barkley’s long-term market value.
“As far as him missing games, either not signing the tender or holding out, everybody would know that it wasn’t a real injury or not a real concern and that he was just doing it for contractual reasons. So the idea that people think he’s hurt, I don’t think other teams would care much about that. I think they’d know it was a means to an end,” Tucker said.
“I don’t know that getting a lot of touches this year and putting up big numbers, I don’t even know how much it helps him. I think you can make an argument that he’s better off not playing until the last six games. I don’t believe that, by the way, because it’s $561,000 a week. I think he needs to show up the day before the first game and get all his, get his $10.1 million.
“If we’re talking strictly about his market value in 2024, an argument could be made that he’s only signed for the last six games. That way it still counts as a season and his contract doesn’t count. He could put up big numbers for the last two or three games and potential suitors for him and free agency. They’ll actually be happy that he has less tread on his tires. That he’s not coming off a 350-touch season.”
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