Getty Saquon Barkley responded bluntly to a question about his future with the New York Giants.
He’s not considering a new contract, but Saquon Barkley knows loyalty has nothing to do with whether he gets a deal from the New York Giants or another NFL team.
The two-time Pro Bowl running back was blunt when asked if taking on a heavy workload for the struggling Giants would improve his chances of getting paid. Barkley said: “Loyalty means nothing. Loyalty means nothing. No matter how loyal, no matter how committed you are, at the end of the day it’s a business. That’s what I learned,” said Giant’s videos from SNY.tv.
Saquon Barkley asked if NFL teams will view his heavy workload as ‘loyalty’ during Giants’ quarterback woes:
“Loyalty means nothing. No matter how loyal or committed you are, at the end of the day it’s a business – that’s what I learned.” pic.twitter.com/z6r1WWW5AW
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) November 16, 2023
He may be doing his best not to think about what comes next, but Barkley’s future will be a big topic of conversation this offseason. He is scheduled to hit free agency in 2024 after the Giants decided not to give him a long-term contract last offseason.
Big Blue instead agreed to pay quarterback Daniel Jones $160 million over four years. The decision looked increasingly suspicious as Jones faltered before tearing his ACL in Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
In contrast, Barkley remains the most effective playmaker in a Giants offense that is still worryingly one-dimensional. If the Giants still don’t recognize Barkley’s value, another team likely will next March.
Saquon Barkley is probably still haunted by the franchise tag
Barkley was an example of why the running back position seemed completely devalued before this season. The Giants gave him the franchise tag rather than paying him for the long haul, even though No. 26 recorded career highs for carries (295), rushing yards (1,312) and first downs (62) while tying the Giants Team leader with 57 receptions.
He was a true workhorse who helped the Giants surprisingly make it to the playoffs. Although general manager Joe Schoen converted the tag into a more lucrative one-year deal, he still felt it was better to reward Jones, a quarterback coming off his first solid season in the pros.
A new contract and several new receivers didn’t mean a leap forward for Jomes. Barkley remains the focal point of this offense and every defense knows he is the player to stop.
The Cowboys knew it when they held Barkley to 1 yard on seven runs in the first half in Week 10 at AT&T Stadium. He will continue to see eight-man fronts, with undrafted quarterback Tommy DeVito filling in for Jones.
Barkley’s chances of making plays aren’t helped by the problems of the players around him. The Giants’ ineptitude was summed up by this botched “Wildcat” run against the Cowboys, highlighted by ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
This play from Sunday really sums up the Giants’ offense this year. Sloppy and head-scratching, with an offensive lineman pointing the wrong way and preventing his RB from scoring. pic.twitter.com/EJnFCSbZXx
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) November 15, 2023
He’s getting next to no help, but Barkley still behaves like a player the Giants should keep around beyond this season.
Giants, Daniel Jones still need Saquon Barkley
Jones’ future international goals mean he is likely to be around longer this year, but the signal-caller will still need Barkley in the backfield. The presence of a game-changing runner was the main reason for Jones’ success in 2022.
According to Pro Football Reference, he racked up a career-best 984 yards of off-play action passes. Jones, head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka all knew how to take full advantage of the attention given to Barkely.
In addition to his impact on the field, the Giants also need Barkley for his leadership. That’s something wide receiver Sterling Shepard explained to “Talkin’ Ball” podcast host Pat Leonard: “The man handled it like a real pro. There were times when other people didn’t know how he handled it like that. But that’s exactly Saquon’s type.”
Sterling Shepard (@sterl_shep3) on Saquon Barkley’s leadership during a difficult year on The Talkin’ Ball with Pat Leonard podcast: “The man handled it like a true pro. There were times when other people didn’t know how he handled it like that. But that’s exactly the type of guy… pic.twitter.com/1haqDklYdL
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) November 14, 2023
Shepard’s description of Barkley as the “ultimate teammate” is telling. It speaks to a value that goes beyond the field.
The Giants need to know that replacing Barkley will be anything but easy. Schoen and Daboll have received ample evidence since taking over that the Giants will only go as far as No. 26 can take them.
It’s time for the Giants to correct their mistake and find a way to adequately compensate Barkley.
James Dudko covers the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens for Heavy.com. He has covered the NFL and world soccer since 2011, with bylines at FanSided, Prime Time Sports Talk and Bleacher Report, before moving to Heavy in 2021. More about James Dudko
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