Saquon Barkley has considered sitting out 2023 season amid contract dispute

Saquon Barkley has considered sitting out 2023 season amid contract dispute
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The New York Giants failed to reach an extension with Saquon Barkley before Monday’s deadline.

Now, there’s at least a chance they don’t see their star running back in 2023.

During an appearance on “The Money Matters” podcast, which was recorded days before the deadline and published on Monday, Barkley said he’s considered sitting out for the entire 2023 NFL season amid his contract dispute with the Giants.

“My leverage is I could say, ‘F- you’ to the Giants. I could say, ‘F- you’ to my teammates,” Barkley said. “And be like, ‘You want me to show you my worth? You want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I won’t show up. I won’t play a down.’ And that’s a play I could use.

“Anybody [who] knows me, knows that’s not something I want to do. But is it something that’s crossed my mind? I never thought I would ever do that. But now I’m at a point where I’m like, ‘Jesus, I might have to take it to this level.’

“Am I prepared to take it to this level? I don’t know. That’s something [where] I gotta sit down and talk to my family, talk to my team and really strategize about this. You can’t just go off emotions.”

That leverage ultimately didn’t land Barkley a new deal as he was one of three franchise-tagged running backs, along with the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Pollard and the Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh Jacobs, who didn’t get extended. They were just the latest victims of a harsh running back market, which hasn’t seen a long-term deal worth an average of at least $10 million annually since 2021.

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Barkley tweeted “It is what it is” after the deadline passed, while other star running backs like Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor sounded off on how the position is valued in today’s NFL.

On the podcast, Barkley voiced his belief in being the top player at his position, but that he wasn’t demanding a deal that would have paid him as such. The franchise tag is a one-year contract worth $10.1 million, and the Giants would have the ability to tag Barkley again for the 2024 season. Barkley can’t negotiate a long-term deal again until after next season, though the Giants can give him a raise for 2023.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that Barkley hasn’t signed his franchise tender yet and isn’t expected to report to training camp. The Giants can’t fine Barkley for missing training camp and the two-time Pro Bowler would only lose money for sitting out regular-season games.

The question now becomes whether Barkley will actually go the Le’Veon Bell route. Bell sat out for the entire 2018 season after being franchise tagged by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The following offseason, he inked a four-year, $52.5 million deal, including $35 million guaranteed, with the New York Jets. He was then released during Year 2 with the Jets before bouncing around between the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next one-plus seasons.

Barkley, 26, is coming off a stellar bounce-back season. Two years removed from a torn ACL, Barkley posted 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground over 16 games, along with catching 57 passes for 338 yards. He accounted for 27.7% of the team’s scrimmage yards as New York reached the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

  The Wall Street Journal