Saquon Barkley says he has considered not playing for the New York Giants this season, admitting during a recent interview that he “might have to take it to this level” amid his stalemate with the team over a long-term contract.
Barkley discussed his “leverage” in contract negotiations with the Giants during an appearance on “The Money Matters” podcast that was recorded before Monday’s deadline for franchised players to agree to long-term deals.
The Giants and Barkley did not agree to a deal before the deadline, meaning the star running back will have to play the upcoming season under the $10.091 million franchise tender.
Since he still has not signed the tender, Barkley cannot be fined for missing training camp, which begins for Giants veterans on Tuesday. The two-time Pro Bowler will lose money only if he misses regular-season games and has to forfeit game checks — a possibility he acknowledged he has considered.
“My leverage is I could say, ‘F— you’ to the Giants, I could say, ‘F— you to my teammates,” Barkley told the podcast, which published the July 11 interview on Monday. “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.”
Barkley said he wanted to discuss his options with his family and advisers in order to “strategize about this” rather than “just go off emotions.” Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier this week that Barkley is not expected to report for the start of training camp.
Barkley reiterated during the podcast that he considers himself the best running back in the NFL, but also said he still wants to help the Giants win a Super Bowl.
“I can try to get as much money as I can, but what really matters is winning,” he said. “I know if I’m able to help bring a championship to New York, that’s going to go miles more ahead than this contract.”
The Giants’ contract negotiations with Barkley did not go smoothly from the start. The Giants made an initial offer during the bye week in November that Barkley never seriously considered, multiple sources told ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, before the sides tabled talks until after the season.
The Giants’ offers to Barkley increased earlier this year, reaching a point where a deal could max out at $14 million per season, sources told Raanan. But the sticking point was guaranteed money and structure, which never got close to Barkley’s satisfaction, prompting the Giants to ultimately use their franchise tag on Barkley in March.
Barkley, 26, finished fourth in the NFL with a career-high 1,312 rushing yards last season, ran for 10 touchdowns and tied for the team lead with 57 receptions. He has played in 60 career games over five seasons since being the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2018, when he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.