The New York Giants have had a good offseason. From signing Kenny Golladay to acquiring a 2022 Chicago Bears first-round pick in the NFL Draft, general manager Dave Gettleman likely benefited the roster in both the immediate and long-term future. But Gettleman can do even more this summer. Working out a Saquon Barkley contract extension before the 2021 season would put the icing on the cake.
The Giants picked up Barkley’s fifth-year option in April. As a result, the star running back won’t hit free agency until at least the 2023 offseason. The extra year could allow the front office to hold off serious negotiations with Barkley’s camp. Plus, it’s important to see how Barkley will rebound from the torn ACL he sustained last September. Nevertheless, it’s not too early to lock up a potential franchise cornerstone.
Why the New York Giants Should Finish Saquon Barkley Contract Extension This Summer
Elite Production and Disproving the Injury-prone Myth
There’s no question that Barkley is a franchise player. In just 31 games, he’s rushed for 2,344 yards and 17 touchdowns on 497 carries. His agility and big-play ability make him one of the league’s most dynamic players. Despite New York’s many offensive holes, Barkley has been the Giants’ most consistent playmaker since the team drafted him second overall in 2018. Simply put, he’s one of the NFL’s brightest young stars who the Giants can’t afford to lose.
The only thing that may discourage the Giants from committing to Barkley long-term is his injury history. He missed three games in 2019 due to a high-ankle sprain. Then in 2020, he missed most of the season with a torn ACL. It’s led skeptics to question Barkley’s durability.
It’s safe to say that Barkley’s past injuries are coincidental and won’t affect his future play. He hasn’t suffered any setbacks since his knee surgery. And there have been many star running backs who rebounded from knee injuries to return in full force. Take Dalvin Cook, whose skill set is similar to Barkley’s, for example. Not only has Cook blossomed into a star after suffering ACL and hamstring injuries in 2017 and 2018, but his carries have increased each year. So it’s unlikely Barkley’s injuries will hinder his play. And considering non-contact injuries don’t correlate with a player’s workload, Barkley definitely isn’t injury-prone. He’s worth a long-term deal.
This is the best Saquon Barkley has looked in his rehab videos so far, I think. #Giants
(Via Saquon’s Instagram.) pic.twitter.com/Nl3K9vTkkw
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) June 22, 2021
Saquon Barkley Contract Extension Would Address 2023 Offseason Ahead of Time
Barkley isn’t the only one with a contract set to expire in 2023. James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, and Darius Slayton are just a few Giants players who also have two years left on their deals. All three of those players have found success in New York thus far, so they should be in line for contract extensions. Since Bradberry, Martinez, and Slayton will all be younger than 30 in 2023, their price tags could be hefty. To make matters worse for the Giants, Bradberry could demand a market-setting deal if he keeps up his stellar play.
— NFL (@NFL) June 10, 2021
Barkley fits in here because it would serve the Giants well to take care of their best player first. It’s almost certain that at least one of these contract negotiations will spill into the 2023 season. To limit in-season distraction, the Giants should aim to get some extensions done before then. Barkley’s negotiations will likely require the most time and effort of the four, so it would be best to work out a new contract sooner rather than later. It’ll be one less worry for the Giants in what could be a turbulent year.
A Saquon Barkley contract extension is not going to be cheap. Barkley’s next deal will likely reset the running back market. For the Giants, who rely on many highly paid free agents to play key roles, it’s important to save as much money as possible. So if another top running back signs a long-term contract before Barkley does, his price tag could skyrocket.
With Cleveland Browns star Nick Chubb entering the final year of his contract, that’s a major concern for the Giants. The two-time Pro Bowler has played so well that he could receive a record-breaking deal before the 2021 season begins. If that were to happen, Barkley would receive immense leverage. The top running back salary is already over $16 million per year, so a Chubb deal could allow Barkley to demand a salary somewhere in the ballpark of $18 million per year. A deal that expensive could prevent the Giants from signing their other key players in the near future.
But if New York signs Barkley early, the team can give itself more financial flexibility. It would also avoid any possibility of rumors or a holdout polarizing both sides. For a team who hasn’t had a young star this talented since Odell Beckham Jr., whose own contract talks didn’t go too smoothly, maintaining a good relationship with Barkley is a must.</span
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