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Giants use franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley

Barkley will return to Giants in 2023 on the tag ... for now

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Having reached a long-term deal with quarterback Daniel Jones at the 11th hour, the New York Giants applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to star running back Saquon Barkley prior to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

That means that unless the Giants and Barkley can reach a long-term deal by the July 17 deadline, Barkley will play for $10.091 million in 2023 and potentially become a free agent after next season.

Under the non-exclusive tag, Barkley can still negotiate with other teams. Should anyone make him an offer the Giants decline to match, the team would receiver two first-round draft picks as compensation. It seems highly unlikely anyone would give up that much for Barkley.

Barkley reportedly rejected a contract offer from the Giants around the middle of the 2022 season that would have paid him an average annual value of $12.5 million. He has said he is not looking to re-set the running back market, but it has become clear he is looking for something closer to Christian McCaffrey (16 million overage annual value) or Alvin Kamara/Ezekiel Eliott (15 million AAV) rather than the cluster of backs making around $12 million annually.

ESPN reported earlier on Tuesday that negotiations between Barkley and the Giants “have been stalled.”

Giants general manager Joe Schoen has been clear since the end of the 2022 season that he wanted both players to return to New York, but had also only guaranteed that Jones would return. Clearly, the priority was quarterback over running back.

Barkley, 26, is coming off a resurgent season. He had a career-high 1,312 rushing yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry, scored 10 touchdowns, had 1,650 total yards from scrimmage and made the Pro Bowl for the second time.

After three seasons in which he was limited by injuries, the 2022 season was Barkley’s best since his 2,028 total yards from scrimmage rookie season of 2018.