Saquon Barkley could set record for RB contracts, but says that 'will take care of itself'

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

One of Christian McCaffrey’s records isn’t going to last long.

When McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Carolina Panthers this offseason, it was the largest contract for a running back in NFL history. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley will use that as a starting point.

Whether Barkley is better than McCaffrey or vice versa, Barkley seems like a lock to get a larger deal. That’s how it works: NFL deals get larger as time goes on. Barkley was the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft, had a great rookie season and the Giants can’t let him go after his first contract expires. Everyone knows that. Barkley and his agent presumably know that too.

Barkley isn’t focused on it.

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) is entering his third NFL season. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) is entering his third NFL season. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Saquon Barkley concentrating on improvement

Barkley is pretty laid back about his upcoming deal. Maybe it’s because he knows there’s not much to worry about.

"I'm a big believer in taking care of the little things first," Barkley said, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. "For now, that means getting to meetings on time and trying to be the best player and leader I can be. I feel if I take care of that, the rest will take care of itself."

Drafted NFL players can’t sign an extension until after their third season. Barkley just finished his second season, one in which he dealt with a high ankle sprain but by the end of the season he looked like his spectacular self again.

Assuming Barkley doesn’t suffer a major injury in his third season — and that’s always the concern when players start thinking about long-term deals — then the Giants will exercise his fifth-year option. Technically the Giants will have him for three more years without an extension, but we could see a holdout before the five years are up.

The only question is how much the Giants will end up giving Barkley.

Barkley’s deal will be huge

McCaffrey got $16 million a year, which reset the market for the elite backs. That said, we’ve all heard by now about the complicated market for backs.

McCaffrey is a special back, coming off a rare season with 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. There aren’t many running backs who can command a huge long-term deal in a market that is devaluing the position. But Barkley is unquestionably one of those special backs.

The only concern is injury. That’s always a risk for a running back, perhaps more than any other position. Nobody thought when Todd Gurley got his big extension from the Los Angeles Rams that he’d be cut just a couple years later, then settling for a one-year, $6 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

Barkley can’t do anything about it yet. He’s not even eligible for an extension. But next year is when he might start caring a little more about the deal, as will the Giants.

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