Saquon Barkley on Contract Talks with Giants: 'I'd Love to Be Here Forever'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2021

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants on the field before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Saquon Barkley will become a free agent after the 2022 season and is extension eligible, though to this point he and the New York Giants haven't agreed to one.

But Barkley told reporters on Thursday he'd love to spend his entire career with the Giants:

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"I think I've made it clear that this is the place that drafted me, I'd love to be here forever"<br><br>Saquon Barkley says he hasn't had time to focus on his contract but does say he'd love to be with the Giants for the rest of his career: <a href="https://t.co/VJQvytqB3B">pic.twitter.com/VJQvytqB3B</a>

Barkley, 24, set the NFL world on fire as a rookie, rushing for 1,307 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 91 receptions for 721 yards and four scores. He more than lived up to expectations after being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. 

But injuries have been a major factor since. Barkley missed three games in 2019 with an ankle sprain and 14 games in 2020 with a torn ACL. This year, he missed four games because of an ankle injury. 

That Barkley hasn't been as effective since his explosive rookie season is as concerning as the injuries. That year, he averaged 126.7 yards from scrimmage per game and 0.9 touchdowns per contest. 

In the 25 games he's played across the past three seasons, however, those numbers have dipped to 88.4 yards from scrimmage per contest and 0.4 touchdowns per game, a significant regression. 

After his rookie season, Barkley seemed destined for the sort of lucrative contract extension Christian McCaffrey signed in 2020 (four years, $64 million). Now, that level of compensation is in question. 

And McCaffrey's own extension might be seen as a cautionary tale for teams contemplating lucrative extensions for running backs, seeing as how he's played in just 10 games over the past two years due to injury. The unfortunate situation for running backs is that the position has been undervalued in recent years, as more teams turn to platoons at the position. 

That's a trend that might factor into negotiations between Barkley and the Giants, though the running back has always had a huge fan in general manager Dave Gettleman. 

"Stuff happens. Not everything is perfect. There are guys all over this league that get hurt—big-time players," Gettleman told reporters in August. "He has done a great job rehabbing. I feel the same way about him: He's different."