The New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley seriously considered taking drastic measures like staying away from training camp or even missing regular-season games. He revealed: “It was a play that I had.” However, after much thought, he decided not to pursue that path, stating, “Kind of followed my heart,” during his first public statement since reporting to the Giants’ camp on time.
In the midst of nearly 10 months of contract negotiations, the 26-year-old running back gained a deeper understanding of the stark contrast between the game he loved playing for free while growing up and the business side of the NFL. Barkley acknowledged that the frustration was getting to him, confessing: “it was leaning in that direction.”
Yet, what he called “an epiphany” came after he sought advice from several veteran players. Barkley explained how their words convinced him to let go of the frustration and move forward, stating: “When you show up you can’t have that in your heart.”
The Giants offered Barkley a one-year franchise tag deal worth $10.1 million, with the possibility of earning an additional $900,000 in incentives if the team makes the playoffs. Despite not getting the multi-year contract he desired, Barkley believed it was a wise decision to return and play the game he loved, saying: “I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid.”
He showed his respect for Giants’ office
Regarding his contract negotiations, Barkley delicately but firmly expressed his stance. He revealed: “I said I wasn’t trying to reset the running back market, I said I wanted something that was respectable.” He further clarified: “If I felt like it was something respectable, I would have taken it.”
While he turned down the offer at the deadline for a multi-year deal that reached $23 million in guaranteed money, Barkley refrained from delving into specifics of the contracts he rejected, out of respect for Giants general manager Joe Schoen and co-owner John Mara.
Barkley revealed that the advice from veteran players helped him earn respect from the Giants’ management, allowing him to move forward despite not reaching an agreement. He stated: “We were able to put everything aside.”
Despite the contract situation, Barkley showed his support for his teammates who secured lucrative deals, saying, “I’m all about my teammates and my brothers getting paid”. As the season unfolds, Barkley aims to prove his worth on the field, hoping to make a difference in the running back market and be a catalyst for positive change.