19 July 2023 | 6:30
Gearing is an eight-letter word, but Saquon Barkley can spell it with four.
In an interview detailing his contract negotiations, Barkley revealed what he might be thinking now that the deadline to negotiate a long-term contract with the Giants has passed and he’s stuck on an as-yet-unsigned one-year franchise tag worth $10.1 million.
During a July 11 podcast taping, Barkley said he still hoped to make a deal.
But the sides ended up less than $2 million apart, sources told The Post, so he is not expected to report to training camp and may decide to skip regular-season games.
“My leverage is that I could say, ‘F–k you’ to the Giants, I could say, ‘F–k you to my teammates,'” Barkley said in an episode of “The Money Matters” released Monday on YouTube.
“And be like, ‘You want me to show you my worth?’ Do you want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I don’t show up. I don’t want to play a down.’ And it’s a play I could use’.
“Anyone [who] know me, know it’s not something I want to do. Is it something that occurred to me? I never thought I would ever do it, but now I’m at a point where I’m like, ‘Jesus, I might have to take it to this level.’ Am I ready to take it to this level? I do not know.
“It’s something I have to sit down and talk to my family, talk to my team [of advisers] and strategies around this. Can’t just walk away from feelings.”
Barkley also said, “I can try to get as much money as I can, but what really matters is winning. I know if I’m able to help bring a championship to New York, that’s going to go miles further than this contract.”
What would sitting out accomplish?
It can create panic and pressure from fans if playoff hopefuls get off to a slow start and the offense sputters without its best playmaker.
But Barkley, 26, and the Giants can’t negotiate a long-term extension again until after the season.
“I think I’m the best running back in the NFL,” Barkley said at the time. “I don’t even ask for what I’m worth.”
Maybe Barkley could squeeze out some concessions — like the Giants forfeiting their right to tag him again in 2024 or a small raise — but mostly that would send a message at the cost of nothing in training camp (unsigned players can’t be fined for missing practices) and about $560,000 per week in the regular season.
“I wouldn’t say I’m not happy,” Barkley, a Bronx native, said at the time. “Where I am thrown off, or it does not suit me, I came out publicly and said that I want to be a giant for life.
“I didn’t want to hit the free agency market. I feel like we could have gotten the job done.”
Barkley turned down a $13 million-a-year offer that included $19.5 million guaranteed, sources told The Post during his exit last season.
Barkley confirmed what The Post previously reported — he would never accept less than the guaranteed $22.5 million (roughly equal to two tags).
He also sought a high annual average per year due to “respect”.
“The number they offered, they thought I could jump on because of my injury history,” Barkley said. “I was like I’d rather bet on myself.”
At the time, Barkley also felt disrespected by the Giants’ player comparisons used against him.
He cited several times how he accounted for more than 30 percent of last season’s offensive yardage.
“My comp was two running backs that really aren’t used in the pass-catching game, more downhill runners — great running backs,” Barkley said. “They have already shown me their hand: They told me my comp and I know theirs [pay]. If that’s what you’re telling me, and I know what they signed, what exactly are we talking about?
“After hearing that, they tell you, ‘That’s the type of player you are.’ I’m like, ‘Eh, no. I can catch the ball. I had 91 catches, the rookie record for a running back.”
Barkley said general manager Joe Schoen told him “none of this is personal, it’s business,” but a “threat” to convince him to accept a team offer was that they could double-tag him.
“You’ve got to take a more mature path: You can’t just be like, ‘F–k it, I want something fair,'” Barkley said. “What are we talking about? Ten million dollars is a lot of money, especially when you look at the economy of our country and where the poverty is, and I’m someone who comes from that. You have fans, ‘How much do you want? We just want you here?’
“That’s when it gets annoying for me. I don’t want to come off like I’m greedy, like I’m arrogant. At the end of the day, you still have to do what’s right for you.”
For those hoping he’ll be ready for Week 1 against the Cowboys, a week ago Barkley was still resistant to a holdout before no deal materialized.
“If I have to go on the field and prove and play again,” Barkley said, “I’m fine with that.”