NFC East reporter
Saquon Barkley’s summer resistance was over before it began.
The star running back agreed to terms on a new, one-year, $11 million contract with the Giants early Tuesday morning, a source told FOX Sports. The deal ended their confrontation over the franchise tag and guaranteed that Barkley would show up to training camp Tuesday with the rest of his teammates.
The deal includes a $2 million signing bonus and gives Barkley a chance to earn a little more than the $10.1 million he would have earned if he had signed the label, the source said. That $10.1 million is still guaranteed, but he can now earn an additional $900,000 in incentives based on rushing yards, touchdowns and receptions, if the Giants also make the playoffs.
He would earn incentives for reaching 1,300 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and 65 receptions (approximately $300,000) each, a source confirmed. Barkley hasn’t reached that mark for a touchdown or reception since he was a rookie (2018) and his career high for rushing yards was 1,312 yards which he recorded last year.
The agreement does not include any provision that prohibits the Giants from using the franchise tag on him again next offseason, the source said. So this is a temporary solution and both sides could fight again in 2024.
For now, though, it’s a solution both sides will be happy to accept, as it eliminates what could have been a major distraction for the Giants this summer. Barkley, 26, was upset when the Giants failed to meet his demands and the two sides were unable to agree on a long-term contract before the July 17 deadline for franchised players to sign new deals, and was considering staying out of camp and not reporting until early September, according to a source.
He had even said publicly that he would consider sitting out the entire season, though multiple sources doubted he would ever let things go that far.
The late commitment was the result of an NFL rule that allows teams to negotiate the terms of the franchise tag offer with players, though they are not allowed to discuss long-term deals with them once the deadline has passed. For Barkley, it was the only way to earn more than the tag this season, and it was the only incentive the Giants could use to lure him into camp.
The two sides are still barred from negotiating a new long-term deal until Jan. 7, after the Giants’ final regular-season game.
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Whether they will probably depend on how this season goes for Barkley and the Giants. They came a little close to reaching an agreement before the deadline, with a difference of a few million dollars after almost nine months of negotiations. The Giants offered the running back more than $22 million in guaranteed money, about the amount Barkley would earn if he were franchised in back-to-back years, but there were other parts of their final offer that Barkley’s camp didn’t like, a source said, including the length and average year.
There were several things that worked against Barkley in the negotiations. One was the depressed running back market, which has resulted in a leaguewide trend against giving big guarantees to players at that position. The Giants were definitely wary of that given Barkley’s injury history, including the ACL tear that ended his 2020 season and ruined 2021, and the shoulder injury he played in last year, though it clearly wore itself out in the second half.
Still, last year was a stellar turnaround season for Barkley. He rushed 295 times for 1,312 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 games and caught 57 passes for 338 yards. He and quarterback Daniel Jones were not only the best players on offense, they were basically the entire offense all season.
But while the Giants were willing to give Jones a four-year, $160 million contract with $82 million guaranteed, they just weren’t willing to make any kind of big investment in Barkley.
At least now, Barkley will have a chance to change their minds by proving his worth on the field. With Barkley, the Giants have a chance to build on their 9-7-1 season and their surprising playoff berth last year. Without him, there would have been a dark cloud hanging over them throughout the camp.
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him on Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
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