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Giants ‘messed up’ with Saquon Barkley, says NFL analyst Ross Tucker

Host of Ross Tucker Football Podcast joins ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast

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NY Giants Saquon Barkley on the bench Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

The New York Giants “messed up” in their handling of the Saquon Barkley contract, former NFL player and current NFL analyst Ross Tucker told the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast on Monday.

“I think they messed up here, and I’ll tell you why,” Tucker, host of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, said. “I think on paper, especially given his injury history, it makes perfect sense. Tag him this year for $10 million, have him for the whole year, tag him again next year, $12 million or whatever, have him for that whole year. And by then you move on or you draft another running back or whatever, right? Because what are the odds that Saquon’s still explosive, still healthy, still productive in 2025? Totally, totally get that mindset.”

Tucker said, though, that “the locker room matters.” We have already seen Xavier McKinney express strong support for Barkley.

“What I would argue is they were close enough that I think it would’ve made sense to get that deal done,” Tucker said. “Give him another million a year if that gets it done. Give him two more million guaranteed if that gets it done because the games are not played on paper, the locker room matters.

“The vibe in the locker room, the feeling that the Giants are taking care of their guy. Now look, they took care of [Dexter] Lawrence, they took care of Daniel Jones. The Giants are usually very good at that, but I, I just think we’ll see how it plays out. Maybe Saquon’s angry and fired up and comes out and has a great year, he’s motivated, maybe it works out. I think, though, that the positive emotions from rewarding Saquon and getting that contract done, rather than having this distraction, this discussion and the potential of him missing games, I think it would’ve been worth the extra million a year, maybe even the extra 2 million per year, and certainly the extra two or 3 million guaranteed.”

NFLPA President J.C. Tretter was on Tucker’s podcast recently and broached the idea of players faking or exaggerating injuries to create leverage. Tretter said:

“You need to try to create as much leverage as you possibly can in any situation,” Tretter said. “And that’s the tough thing with the franchise tag or being restricted in movement is it decreases your leverage. But then you have to find creative ways to build leverage elsewhere. And I think we’ve seen issues. Now, I don’t think anybody would ever say they were fake injuries, but we’ve seen players who didn’t want to be where they currently have injuries that made them unable to practice and play.

“But you’re not able to get fined, and you’re not able to be punished for not reporting. So, there are issues like that. I don’t think I’m allowed to ever recommend that, at least publicly. But I think each player needs to find a way to build up leverage to try to get a fair deal. And that’s really what all these guys are looking for, is to be compensated fairly.”

Tucker referred to the concept Tretter seemingly endorsed as “holding in,” and said he understands it.

“When I say holding in, what that really means is you report to the team, you’re there, but then you don’t practice or you choose to believe that whatever ailment you’re dealing with, because there’s always some player that has something that you’re not gonna practice through it. Right? Whether you want to call that faking injuries, exaggerating injuries, that’s really up to you,” Tucker said.

“A lot of fans have a huge problem with it, with the idea of a player faking an exaggerating an injury. Totally get it. Totally understand. And by the way, growing up how I did where I did, I would’ve felt that way until I was 22 and played in the NFL. And if I never played in the NFL, I would still feel that way. When you’re actually in it and you see how the sausage is made and you see the borderline unethical, the way in which teams will treat players at times from a health standpoint for whatever reason, but usually to save money or to get them to play through an injury, I have a really tough time imagining that you will find a current or former player that would have any issue with a player holding in.”

Tucker did add that Barkley is “not in a scenario where a hold in makes a lot of sense, unless his representatives wanted to intimate to the Giants that Saquon might end up being a little too banged up to play in the first couple games unless he gets X, Y, or Z.”

Tucker said he didn’t think sitting out games would hurt Barkley’s long-term market value.

“In terms of him missing games, either not signing the tender or holding in, everyone would know that that was not a real injury or not a real concern and that he was just doing it for contractual reasons. So the idea of people thinking that he’s hurt, I don’t think other teams would care much about that. I think they would know that it was a means to an end,” Tucker said.

“I don’t know that getting a bunch of touches this year and putting up big numbers, I don’t really even know how much that helps him. I think you can make an argument he’s better off not playing till the last six games. Now, I don’t believe this by the way, because it’s $561,000 a week. I think he should show up the, the day before the first game and get all of his, get his $10.1 million.

“If we’re talking strictly about his market value in 2024, an argument could be made that he only signs for the last six games. That way it still counts as a season and his contract doesn’t toll. He could put up big numbers for the last two or three games and potential suitors for him and free agency. They’ll actually be happy that he has less tread on his tires. That he, is not coming off a season with 350 touches.”

Full episode



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