Saquon Barkley, Giants settle on 1-year deal worth up to $11 million, AP source says

FILE - New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) warms up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. Barkley and the New York 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/Rich Schultz, File)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Saquon Barkley and his contract are not going to be a distraction in training camp for the New York Giants.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back and the Giants surprisingly came to an agreement on a one-year, $11 million deal on Tuesday as players reported to camp and looked forward to getting back to the playoffs for the second straight year under coach Brian Daboll.

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Those plans seemed in jeopardy for the past week as the Giants faced the prospect of their star back missing camp. Barkley was unhappy having a franchise tag put on him in March and his mood probably didn’t improve on July 17 when the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a long-term extension. It meant Barkley would have to play for the $10.1 million value of the franchise tag, if he chose to play.

There was speculation he might sit out all of camp and maybe even miss some of the season. That would have been a major disruption because Barkley is well liked by teammates and fans and his absence would have forced Daboll to constantly field questions about him. The coach doesn’t like to discuss missing players.

The concern ended Tuesday with the Giants confirming Barkley signed his franchise tender. The potential value of the contract was bumped up to $11 million with $909,000 worth of incentives, 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 did not release the incentive details.

“Obviously we are glad we were able to work things out with Saquon,” general manager Joe Schoen said in a statement. “We all recognize the player and person Saquon is and what he means to our team. He is a good teammate, a leader and a really good player. We are looking forward to getting on the field tomorrow.”

The Giants did not make Barkley available on Tuesday. Emails to his agents Ed Berry of Creative Artists Agency and Kim Maile of Roc Nation Sports seeking comment were not immediately answered.

The Giants and Barkley, who is entering his sixth season, cannot discuss a new contract again until the end of this season. New York maintains the right to franchise him again in 2024.

Barkley ran for a career-best 1,312 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season in helping the Giants (9-7-1) make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. He also shared the team lead in receptions with 57.

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.

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