July 16, 2023 | 18:13
It takes great vision on the field to become a great running back.
Saquon Barkley has this.
There is another kind of vision clouding the ongoing contract impasse between Barkley and the Giants.
What once felt like a distant deadline – at 4pm on 17th July – fast approaching.
Before Monday at 4 p.m., players designated with the franchise tag must either sign a multi-year contract with the team or play on the one-year tag, which for Barkley is $10.1 million for the 2023 season.
The other option for Barkley is to leave the tag unsigned and sit out the season, which is a path fraught with danger and not an option Barkley is expected to take.
This is where the different vision starts.
Barkley understands the running back position has been devalued around the NFL, with the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs, the league’s rushing leader last season with 1,653 yards, also hit with the franchise mark, and Dalvin Cook, sixth among running backs in 2022 with 1,173 yards for the Vikings , is currently unemployed.
Barkley, a team captain, undisputed team leader and the Giants’ most exciting player, sees himself — his view of himself — not defined by the position he plays.
“I feel like I’m more than that,” Barkley said back on June 11 at his football camp in Jersey City. “I feel like we finally got to a place where we’re a successful team. We had to start winning games and I was a big part of that.”
Joe Schoen, the general manager, does not question this.
He appreciates Barkley as a player and as a person and for his desire to be a giant for life.
The vision Schoen has for Barkley, however, does not destroy the reality of what the market holds for running backs.
Miles Sanders, a former teammate of Barkley’s at Penn State, led the 2022 Eagles with 1,269 rushing yards and is now with the Panthers on a four-year deal averaging $6.3 million annually.
The Giants are prepared to pay Barkley, 26, as one of the best running backs in the league.
Their most recent offer moved past an average of $13 million per year, but the guaranteed portion of the deal ($19.5 million) wasn’t rich enough for Barkley.
If the two sides can’t agree on adequate compensation, the Giants are content to have Barkley play at the $10.1 million mark and then revisit his contract situation after the season, when they will again have the opportunity to secure Barkley with the franchise tag. this time for $12 million.
Given the nature of these talks, it would be no surprise if it comes to that.
There was a great rush from the Giants to get quarterback Daniel Jones to a long-term deal, and that negotiation went down to the final minutes before Jones was locked into a four-year deal worth $160 million.
The urgency from the Giants with Barkey is not as intense.
Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, passed the test in 2022 to the extent that it impressed Schoen and a new head coach Brian Daboll, imported from the Bills, who arrived with no allegiance to Barkley.
He rushed for a career-high 1,312 yards and, most importantly, stayed healthy all season after missing three games in 2019 (high ankle sprain), 14 games in 2020 (torn ACL) and four games in 2021 (low ankle). sprain).
In fact, he was an integral part of the winning formula that Daboll created in his first year on the job.
There is no question that the Giants need Barkley’s excellence as a runner and pass-catcher.
There’s also no question that Barkley playing at the one-year franchise mark could lead to all sorts of negative vibes and potential pitfalls.
With no commitment beyond this season, Barkley would have to put up big numbers to sway the Giants or another possible suitor for his next contract.
Any ache, pain, injury or drop in production becomes a topic of conversation.
It’s not the ideal way for a player of Barkley’s stature to move through a season.
Barkley is upset that the offers the Giants made were leaked to the media, which he believes made him appear greedy.
Disagreements of this nature have a way of disappearing after a contractual agreement is reached.
As for Barkley going DEFCON 1 and sitting out the season, his pride might make that scenario tempting, but a) he’d lose $10.1 million, a financial loss he’d be hard-pressed to make up down the road, and b) he values his teammates too much to be able to save them.
Barkley not signing the tag and not reporting to training camp on July 25 is a real possibility.
Will co-owner John Mara, who spoke with Jones before his deal was finalized, intervene again, this time with Barkley, a player admired throughout the organization?