New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen has gone through the offseason checklist in recent months:
Schoen joined NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday and said he spoke with Barkley's representatives last week to see "what the appetite" was to get a deal done. Sides agreed to reconvene after the draft.
"At some point over the next couple of days, we'll circle back up, and we'll have some conversations as to where we are, where they may be, and see if we can get something done," Schoen said.
The Giants used a fifth-round pick on Oklahoma transfer Eric Gray, a change-of-pace pass-catcher who doesn't threaten Barkley's standing as the clear top back in New York. Big Blue's offense would look much different if Matt Breida, Gray, and Gary Brightwell were forced to be the top runners.
Barkley bounced back from three injury-plagued seasons in 2022, netting 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns on 295 carries.
The RB is set to earn $10.091 million on the franchise tag. Sides have until July 17 to come to a multi-year deal, or Barkley would play 2023 on the one-year tender.
"Listen, Saquon is a very good football player, captain last year. He's a good locker room guy. I love him. We want him to be here," Schoen said. "But you've got to have a deal where both parties are happy with where you end up. That's what we're going to try to work for and see if we can get something we can both agree on."
Barkley is fighting a scuffling running back market. The three top backs headed to free agency all got franchise tagged (Barkley, Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs), a sign that teams are willing to pay one-year prices and play the position by ear. Aaron Jones took a pay cut to remain in Green Bay, and the top-paid free agent running back, Miles Sanders, inked a four-year contract worth $6.35 million per season with $13 million guaranteed.
Barkley's dual-threat ability brings more value to the position, and his importance to New York adds a modicum of leverage. Still, he's running up a steep hill, particularly given his injury history.
The RB has yet to sign the franchise tag and can't participate in the offseason program until he does so or gets a new contract. Talks between Schoen and Barkley's reps sputtered after he was tagged -- with the GM admitting the pre-tag offer had been pulled. Schoen's comments and actions suggest he's unlikely to shell out a ton of cash to the position, regardless of how he feels about Barkley.
We'll see if renewed discussions lead to a long-term solution in the coming months. If not, the former No. 2 overall pick could be playing his final seasons in the Big Apple.