In a podcast interview recorded six days before the July 17 franchise tag deadline, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley sounded like he knew he might have to play on the franchise tag this season — and was prepared to do just that.
Barkley told host Jake Mallers on the ‘Money Matters’ podcast, which was released on Monday, July 17 — the day of the tag deadline — that he would “do what I gotta do this year, which I plan on doing.”
Barkley knows he holds the ‘I won’t play’ card and said he would “sit down and talk to my family, talk to my team [of advisers] and strategize.”
“My leverage is I could say, ‘F–k you’ to the Giants, I could say, ‘F–k you to my teammates,’” Barkley said.
“And be like, ‘You want me to show you my worth? You want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I won’t show up. I won’t play a down.’ And that’s a play I could use.’
“Anybody [who] knows me, knows that’s not something I want to do. Is it something that’s crossed my mind? I never thought I would ever do that, but now I’m at a point where I’m like, ‘Jesus, I might have to take it to this level.’ Am I prepared to take it to this level? I don’t know.
“That’s something I have to sit down and talk to my family, talk to my team [of advisers] and strategize about this. Can’t just go off of emotions.”
In chatting with Mallers, though, Barkley did sound like he intended to play.
“If I do go on the field and have prove my worth — again — I’m fine with that,” he said.
Barkley admitted turning down a contract offer during the 2022 bye week, saying “I’d rather bet on myself” than take what he saw as a number the Giants “thought I might jump at because of my injury history.”
Barkley knew he had no real leverage once the Giants tagged him.
“You know your value, you know your worth, but at the same time you’ve gotta be mature about it, you’ve gotta understand it’s a business, you can’t take it personal,” Barkley said. “I knew, once you get tagged my leverage is gone.”
Barkley admitted to Mallers that any deal with less guaranteed money than two years of the franchise tag ($22.2 million) was a non-starter. Especially since, according to Barkley, the Giants told him that without a deal tagging him again next year was on the table.
“I wouldn’t say I’m not happy,” Barkley told Mallers. “Where I’m thrown off, or it doesn’t sit right with me, is I came out publicly and said that I want to be a Giant for life. I didn’t want to hit the free-agency market. I feel like we could’ve got the job done.
“There’s nothing more I would love than to bring a Super Bowl championship to the place I was born.”
Barkley talked about wanting respect from the Giants during the negotiation process, and pointed out to Mallers that there was a time during 2022 when he was 40% of the team’s offense, and finished around 30%.
“That’s a lot of production for a team,” Barkley said.
Barkley told Mallers that “I’m not even asking for what I’m worth ... I’m not going for that.
“I can go to war, try to get as much money as I can. At the end of the day what really matters is winning — winning a championship. I know if I’m able to help bring a championship to New York that’s going to go miles ahead of this contract.”
Barkley, as he has at other times, said he does not want to be seen as greedy.
“A tag is still $10 million dollars, and I’m well aware of that,” Barkley said. “$10 million dollars is a lot of money, a lot of money.
“I don’t want to come off like I’m greedy. I don’t want to come off like I’m arrogant. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to do what’s right for you, though.”
Barkley pointed to what other backs are making and said “I believe I’m the best running back in the NFL and I’m not even asking to be the highest-paid running back.”
Listen to the full interview below.