EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants settled on a contract for the star running back just in time for training camp, with him signing a one-year contract worth up to $11 million, a person close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Giants had not announced the signing of the player they had placed the franchise tag on in March.
The deal, which adds $909,000 in incentives to the $10.1 million Barkley will earn playing under the franchise tag, came on the day players reported to training came in New Jersey and a day before they started practice for the 2023 season.
The Giants and Barkley cannot discuss a new contract again until the end of this season. New York maintains the right to franchise him again in 2024.
This signing avoids a potential distraction in training camp. Because the 26-year-old Barkley did not get a new long-term contract by the July 17 deadline for franchised players and he had not signed his tender offer, he would not have been able to attend camp. There was speculation he might sit out camp and miss some of the season.
That ended with the signing.
Barkley, who was not happy being tagged, ran for a career-best 1,312 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season in helping the Giants (9-7-1) make the playoff for the first time since 2016. He also shared the team lead in receptions with 57 in his second Pro Bowl season.
The $11 million salary puts Barkley among the NFL’s highest-paid running backs. San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey ($16 million) New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara ($15 million), Tennessee’s Derrick Henry ($12.5 million) and Cleveland’s Nick Chubb ($12.2 million) are the top four earners among running backs in average annual salary.
Barkley’s injury history was a concern during negotiations. He was spectacular as a rookie out of Penn State, rushing for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 91 passes for 721 yards and four more TDs. An ankle injury caused him to miss three games in 2019. The devastating injury was a season-ending torn ACL in the second game of the 2020 season, and he wasn’t the same player coming off the injury in 2021, rushing for 593 yards. He returned to form in 2022.
Barkley was one of six players franchised after last season. Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson got a five-year, $260 million contract. Washington defensive lineman Daron Payne got $90 million over four years and Jacksonville tight end and former Giants player Evan Engram received $41.25 million in a three-year deal.
Barkley and fellow running backs Josh Jacobs of Las Vegas and Tony Pollard of Dallas didn’t get deals in a market where the value of running back has fallen dramatically. Pollard signed his tender offer. Jacobs did not.
FILE – New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is introduced before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Jan. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. Barkley and the Giants settled on a contract for the star running back just in time for training camp, signing a one-year contract worth up to $11 million, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)