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Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley: ‘Loyalty means nothing’

The business side of the NFL has been driven home to the Giants’ star running back

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Think Saquon Barkley is going to play nice with the New York Giants this offseason, sign a franchise tag if the team uses it again and show up for the first day of training camp next summer?

You might want to think again after Barkley’s comments on Thursday.

“Loyalty means nothing. Loyalty, that doesn’t mean anything,” Barkley said. “No matter how loyal, no matter how committed you are, it’s a business at the end of the day. That’s something that I’ve learned. So, for me, the way I try to handle that is to not really focus on that, try my best not to think about it.”

Barkley and the Giants failed in an effort to reach a long-term contract last offseason. Barkley signed an amended franchise tag and reported for the opening of training camp. Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders and Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts, in the same situation, did not. Taylor ended up with a three-year, $42 million contract with more than $19 million guaranteed.

Barkley missed three games with an ankle injury and won’t reach the incentives that would have added nearly $1 million to his $10.1 franchise tag. He is averaging a career-high 23.1 touches per game and is on pace for 324 in just 14 games. His career-high is 352 touches, achieved in 16 games in both 2018 and 2023. Over a 17-game season, Barkley would be on pace for 393 touches.

Head coach Brian Daboll said Thursday that he was concerned about trying to win, not about Barkley’s workload.

Barkley will always take the ball. He does, though, understand what’s going on. He said the dichotomy in the NFL of riding running backs hard yet not wanting to pay them is “really crazy.”

“Just the way the business is when you’re a premier back in this league, not to talk about myself, they feed you the ball because it helps you and gives you an opportunity to win games more times than not,” he said. “When it comes to contract or a certain time, you’re a running back, you’re having so much miles on you. It’s a crazy thought process. I try my best not to think about that, or I would go insane. I just try to keep my focus on the love of the game and take care of my body. Whenever the opportunity comes that I have to talk about the contracts again, whether it’s with the Giants or with another team, hopefully I’m able to pull up film and pull up numbers to be able to get myself a contract that’s the best for me and my family.”

Barkley has long said he would like to play for the Giants for his entire career. How the Giants and Barkley proceed this offseason is certainly going to be interesting.