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Saquon Barkley’s ‘sit out the season’ threat rings hollow

Barkley knows the Giants have the leverage in contract talks, and that not playing hurts him more than the Giants in the long run

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

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley issued the expected ‘I might sit out the season if I don’t get the long-term contract I want’ statement on Sunday. Here is exactly what Barkley said Sunday evening after hosting a youth football camp.

That’s the card I could play,” Barkley said. “That comes up in conversation if something doesn’t get done by July 17. We have a little bit of time in between that, so when that day comes up, then I’ll have to sit down with my team, sit down with my family and make decisions and see what we’re going to do, what’s the next move.”

Nonsense. That’s a hollow threat. Barkley isn’t walking away from $10.1 million, which is what he would make playing the 2023 season on the franchise tag. Nor is he going to risk basically destroying his long-term earning potential and damaging his career the way Le’Veon Bell did by sitting out the 2018 season in a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Barkley not attending this week’s mandatory minicamp is not him holding out or withholding services from the Giants. He can’t attend. He doesn’t have a contract and hasn’t signed the tag. He could sign a participation waiver excusing the Giants from liability should he get hurt, but he’s not going to do that.

Saying he would consider sitting out the season is the only card Barkley has to play at this point. In my view, it’s a weak card because it is not going to happen. Doing that hurts Barkley more than the Giants.

Yes, it would hurt the Giants on the field in 2023. It would, though, hurt Barkley far more. It would take $10.1 million out of his pocket, and away from his girlfriend and his two young children. As I said above, it would both damage his career and his long-term earning power.

It would also, I believe, damage his reputation. And that is something Barkley obviously cares deeply about.

Don’t ever believe an athlete when they tell you they don’t read or care about what is said about them in the media or online. They absolutely do.

Barkley did not complain on Sunday about being treated unfairly by the Giants. He railed about the perception that he is “greedy.”

“Me getting tagged, was I upset about it? Nobody wants to get tagged,” Barkley said. “To sit here and say I was frustrated, I was mad, I was upset, what really got me upset was the stories that got leaked out and how misleading they were and how untruthful they were.

“I feel it was trying to paint a narrative of me, paint a picture of me that is not even true. Not even close to being the truth.”

Barkley has vented in the past about criticisms of his running style. So, yeah, he pays attention to what is said about him in the media and online.

The real leverage here is with the Giants, with GM Joe Schoen having made it clear he would be fine with Barkley playing the 2023 season on the tag.

Barkley acknowledged that the Giants “have all the leverage.”

Barkley said that in the end he wants “respect” and to “read between the lines” of why he thus far has rejected offers made by the Giants.

My view is that what Barkley is talking about is guaranteed money, and there likely hasn’t been enough of it to satisfy him in previous offers from the Giants. Two seasons of playing on the franchise tag, if it came to that, would net Barkley slightly more than $22 million. It stands to reason that he would find anything less than that amount in guaranteed money unacceptable.

Will that change between now and July 17 deadline? Best guess is this will come down to the wire.