Saquon Barkley has one year remaining on his contract. In 2022, the Giants can secure him with the fifth-year option and then, if need be, apply the franchise tag for the 2023 season. Translation: Barkley cannot hit free agency anytime soon, if the Giants want to keep him under wraps, financially.
Coming off a season in which he played in only two games before needing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Barkley has no leverage when it comes to securing a new deal. He must prove he can return to full health and then once again perform up to the standards of an elite running back.
This is why when Giants co-owner John Mara on Wednesday said, “I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time,’’ it was a comment worth contemplating.
It is doubtful the Giants can extend Barkley’s deal until he reestablishes his market value with production on the field. His absence cost the offense its only dynamic player.
“It was brutal to watch him go down in Week 2,’’ Mara said. “He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch. Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now. I know our medical people are very pleased with the progress he’s made.’’