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Saquon Barkley moves closer to free agency

News out of New York moves Saquon Barkley closer to the free agent market

12th Annual NFL Honors - Arrivals Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

As we discussed on WCG about a month ago, the New York Giants are in a pickle with Saquon Barkley. The two biggest keys to the Giants’ offense are both unrestricted free agents this year, Barkley and Daniel Jones.

Say what you will about Jones’ value as a quarterback or if it’s worth paying a running back, but for the Giants, the reason they returned to the playoffs was largely in part to that duo. Reports out of New York the last couple of days have pointed to the fact that keeping Jones is the team’s top priority

The Giants have about two weeks before they have to pin the franchise tag on one of these two players. If they are able to work out a long term deal with Jones, that opens the door for Barkley to be given the franchise tag and they can keep him in New York for one more season without worrying about agreeing to a long-term deal. But coming to an agreement with Jones may not be that easy.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Jones has switched agents because he wants a big pay day. Florio says it could be as high as $45 million a year. Early reports from New York is that they had something in mind closer to $30 million a year. You don’t have to be a math wizard to realize the two sides are quite a bit apart.

With only two weeks to go, that certainly makes it look like Jones is going to get the franchise tag, but what does that mean for Barkley? Could Barkley get the long-term deal?

According to long-time New York Giants beat writer Paul Schwartz, probably not. Schwartz states in his latest article (he’s the Brad Biggs of the Giants) that the Giants do not want to give Barkley the $11 million franchise tag because they don’t want it to eat up so much cap space in one year. They also aren’t willing to go above $12.5 million per year on a long-term contract. Earlier reports are that Barkley wants something close to, but not exceeding, Christian McCaffrey’s $15 million per year.

The Schwartz article is significant. The Giants aren’t willing to go above $12.5 million and they aren’t willing to give him the franchise tag, that means Barkley could very well hit the free agent market, and that, of course, is where the Chicago Bears come in.

If Barkley leaves the Giants, the Bears would be the favorites to land the star running back per the above odds. There will be a debate if it’s worth paying a running back that kind of salary in today’s NFL, but the Bears' offense sorely needs a playmaker beyond Justin Fields, and with the wide receiver market looking slim, Barkley may be the guy that could fill that void in the offense.

A safe expectation on a Barkley deal is to be somewhere in the vicinity of a four-year deal worth about $56 million and $35 million guaranteed. The comments of this article will be loaded with people not willing to pay Barkley that kind of money, and it’s understood. Barkley does have a history of injuries, and paying running backs has not exactly been a blueprint for going to the Super Bowl over the last twenty years.

But with a Luke Getsy offense that will focus on running the football, could the trio of Justin Fields, Saquon Barkley and Khalil Herbert be just too tempting for Ryan Poles to pass up? It just might be, and the way things are currently headed in New York, it looks like Poles might just have that option.