June 19, 2024

Later this month at the combine, the New York Giants and running back Saquon Barkley’s agent will try to negotiate a deal that would satisfy both parties’ demands for Barkley to remain a Giant for life and the Giants’ desire to avoid using up all of their anticipated cap space. Even if it’s hoped that they can work things out amicably, Schoen and the Giants do have the franchise tag in their possession; if they want to use it, they must apply by March 7. However, Barkley is unlikely to be happy if he receives the tag once more this year, just as he wasn’t happy about being tagged last year.

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The New York Post made an intriguing suggestion: the Giants could refrain from using the tag on Barkley, let him determine his worth in the league, and demand that he return any offers he receives to the Giants for consideration.
According to the Post, such a move would need mutual trust and goodwill, which the Giants could accomplish if they make it. Although it is typical in the NFL, it is uncommon for teams to have elite players who they don’t want to lose. By doing this, it is believed that fair market value would be paid to the running back and Barkley would gain the respect he so much needs. A similar strategy would also eliminate the franchise tag amount, which would have been deducted from the Giants’ pot regardless of whether the running back signed the tag. This would free up the $12 million tag amount for the Giants to use toward other free agency contracts.

However, there is a flaw in this plan, and it has nothing to do with the mutual respect Barkley and the Giants would need to have for one another in the scenario described by the Post.
New York is at a disadvantage because they are letting other clubs bargain for them by letting Barkley test the market and then bring offers home for the Giants to think about. The Giants give each player they’re thinking about signing a maximum value when conducting business. The value is frequently in line with what the market has determined to be the going rate. But, in terms of guaranteed salary and other concessions, players will nearly always demand more, something that the league’s rigorous cap managers simply cannot accede to.

Barkley’s market testing exposes the Giants to the potential that a team with significantly more salary room might craft a deal that completely destroys the Giants. And although though the Giants would probably receive a compensatory pick if that happened and Barkley signed with another team, the pick wouldn’t be awarded until the following season (assuming the team doesn’t use that pick to offset other free agency signings this off-season).

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