With the two sides unable to reach a long-term deal, the New York Giants could be considering a potential trade for star running back Saquon Barkley.
During the offseason, each NFL team is allowed to place the franchise tag on one player. However, the New York Giants were tasked with navigating this with two worthy players: Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones.
The approach appears to be that the Giants were going to work out a deal with one player and franchise-tag the other. The Giants signed Jones to a four-year, $160 million deal in this case.
This allowed the Giants to give Barkley the franchise tag, which is a guaranteed one-year contract that's given to a player set to become a free agent. The Giants tried to work out a deal with Barkley, but they could not reach an agreement before the Monday franchise tag deadline, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport and others.
No deal for the #Giants and star RB Saquon Barkley, with talks going down to the wire and the best efforts made to strike a compromise, per me, @TomPelissero, and @MikeGarafolo. He?ll play on the tag, but the question is when. pic.twitter.com/DxbEHiRlKL
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 17, 2023
Rather than give Barkley the standard franchise tag, the Giants gave him the non-exclusive tag, the same one Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson received. With this sort of franchise tag, a team can present an offer sheet to the Giants player and, if the player accepts, the team would have to trade the Giants two first-round picks.
That said, if a team were to trade for Barkley, it would likely be a back-room deal outside the scope of this tag that would involve Barkley signing the tag and getting traded. This would happen to avoid the interested team having to trade two first-round picks.
Unfortunately, Barkley is a running back, and no team in 2023 will trade those draft picks for a 26-year-old running back (who will turn 27 during the season) with an injury history that allowed him to play in 28 games across three seasons. This past season, Barkley played 16 games and ran for 1,312 yards on 295 carries, 10 touchdowns, and 57 receptions for 338 yards. He's still fantastic, but the trade assets wouldn't come close to two first-round picks.
So now, with Barkley and the Giants unable to work out a deal, does he get traded?
If so, where could he go? Below, we'll suggest some teams that could be interested in his services, considering that they'd need to give him an extension.
Looking around the league in mid-July, very few teams could handle a Barkley extension. The Cardinals have the second largest cap space right now, but they do have a running back depth chart led by James Conner, who's no Barkley but is serviceable.
Based on the state of the team — with two first-round picks, an injured starting quarterback and the loss of several defensive players over the offseason — a trade for Barkley right now makes no sense.
What's more likely is that they wait until after the season to add him as part of a trio that could include quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
Williams, Harrison Jr. and Barkley would be an exciting trio.
Don't expect this hypothetical to happen before the start of the 2023 season, though.
This is another unlikely deal, but the list of potential destinations is slim. The Bengals still need to pay quarterback Joe Burrow; so with this deal, Barkley likely would be unable to get that extension. However, there could be a Barkley-for-Joe Mixon swap, which could give Barkley a chance to be on a team that will heavily compete for the Super Bowl; and Barkley is a better asset to have than Mixon, especially with the latter's off-the-field concerns. Mixon did take a pay cut to stay, but this would upgrade their roster.
However, this is a bit of a pipe dream and doesn't seem like something that would realistically occur, especially as we inch closer to August.
New England Patriots
Talk about an electric pairing — look no further than the Patriots and Barkley.
The Patriots were in talks to sign wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, so they're not opposed to spending some of the $17.7 million in cap space.
They do have running back Rhamondre Stevenson, but you'd have to imagine they'd be OK with potentially trading him for Barkley or having him second on the depth chart in favor of a talent like Barkley.
That said, the Patriots are unlikely to give Barkley an extension in the range of $15 million per season, but Barkley would undoubtedly help take the stress off quarterback Mac Jones.
More Likely Scenario: He's Not Traded
This may not be what Barkley fans everywhere want to hear, but it's doubtful Barkley will be traded. At this point in the offseason, teams have signed free agents, given extensions and gone through the draft. The amount of money teams have available is limited.
Barkley can sit out, but that will only hurt his free agency status.
You'd have to hope that the Giants would be graceful and let him walk after this season should he sign, but the NFL is a business.
When you look at teams with the most cap space, they all have viable running backs or are in a situation in which doesn't make sense to add him:
- Chicago Bears: Have some running back depth but are rebuilding.
- Arizona Cardinals: Same situation as Chicago.
- Carolina Panthers: Signed Miles Sanders to a lengthy deal.
- New York Jets: Have Breece Hall and Michael Carter Jr.
- Indianapolis Colts: Have Jonathan Taylor.
- Detroit Lions: Just drafted Jahmyr Gibbs.
Prepare for Barkley to stay put with the G-Men for at least 2023. Who knows? They could work out a deal next offseason, or he could find a new home.
Unfortunately, this is the life of an NFL running back — it's difficult, and the value is minimal compared with many other positions.
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