Regardless of why or how the Giants and running back Saquon Barkley failed to work out a long-term deal before last Monday’s deadline, they didn’t. And now the Giants and Barkley can by rule agree only to a one-year deal.
The terms can be whatever the two sides want. The only restriction is the duration. One year, and one year only.
The Giants can give Barkley a salary higher than his $10.1 million tender. They can agree not to tag him in 2024. They can offer him an incentive package. They can use per-game roster bonuses to protect the team against Barkley being injured.
The easy solution would be an incentive package and a commitment to not use the franchise tag if certain performance triggers are reached. Although no team has paid a franchise-tagged player more than his one-year tender would require, teams have agreed not to use the tag again. The Bears did it with linebacker Lance Briggs, and the Titans did it with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
A fair compromise for the Giants and Barkley would consist of paying him for what he does. Games played, yards gained, touchdowns scored. And, if he played in enough games and/or generates enough production, no tag in 2024.
Fair doesn’t matter, however. What matters is the rules. And the rules allow the Giants to squat on $10.1 million as the offer, with no change to any of its terms. If Barkley wants it, he shows up. if he doesn’t, he stays away.
Money and contractual freedom, if he performs.