Giants 'Not in Any Hurry' with Saquon Barkley Contract Extension, Says John Mara

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

New York Giants co-owner John Mara seemingly has no interest in discussing a contract extension for Saquon Barkley until he proves himself on the field in 2021.

Mara spoke to reporters Wednesday and said the team is "not in any hurry" to ink the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year, who missed most of last season because of a torn ACL.

"I certainly think we're not in any hurry to do that. We fully expect him to be as good as new," Mara said. "I mean, if anybody is going to spend 100 percent of his efforts to rehab, it will be Saquon just knowing what type of motivation he has and desire he has. But we're not in any hurry to do that at this point in time, particularly after the money we just spent. But listen, I said it at the end of the season and I'll say it again, we hope he's going to be a Giant for life and at the appropriate time we'll start those discussions."

Barkley has missed time the last two seasons because of injuries, including the last 14 games of 2020. When he's been on the field, Barkley has been one of the most dynamic running backs in football, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and serving as one of the league's best pass-catchers out of the backfield.

While it would make sense for Mara to want Barkley to prove he's still the same player upon his return, it's still a little jarring to hear him suggest it in such blunt terms. Rarely does an owner come out and say they're "not in any hurry" to extend a player most would consider the franchise face.

The Giants have a fifth-year option on Barkley's contract they must choose to exercise this offseason, so they have time to decide on an extension. However, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said earlier this month no decision has been made on the option, which would pay Barkley a $7.2 million base salary.

"It comes back to that medical question. It's unknown and what you have to do is get your trainer and your doctors involved and make your best decision," Gettleman said.

Modern thinking on the long-term running back contract has almost unilaterally said it's a bad idea to tie significant cap space to the position, largely because of year-over-year injuries and the propensity for backs to slow as they age.

However, this seems to be an organizational 180 from where Barkley appeared to be on the priority list a year ago.