While it may only be 11 hours of rhetoric to finalize a deal before Monday’s franchise tag deadline, multiple league sources familiar with stalled contract talks between Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants and Josh Jacobs of Las Vegas Raiders indicated that preparing both players to sit out parts of training camp if overtime cannot be reached.
As of Thursday morning, sources familiar with talks said there was little progress on the renewal for Barkley and Jacobs, and significant steps would need to be made to get any chance of deals before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
While the main issues for Jacobs were not characterized, a source said a Barkley extension remains largely a guaranteed cash shortfall. According to the source, the Giants continue to pursue a deal with guarantees that fall short of the minimum of what Barkley could commit under the next two franchise tags. The franchise tag for 2023 is $10.091 million. If Barkley got tagged a second time in 2024, that would be his guaranteed number at least $12.1 million in 2024. Over a two-year period, that would give the Giants a guaranteed total of $22.2 million.
However, the internal salary cap models for some NFL teams already predict that the 2024 franchise tag for running backs could exceed $13 million. If so, a second tag for Barkley would land on the higher mark, suggesting that Barkley could be staring at a total payout of over $23.1 in guaranteed money under successive tags. As it stands, the source said the Giants continue to offer less guaranteed money than in either scenario. A general rule of thumb for agents negotiating renewals for franchise label players is to make the guaranteed money of successive tags the basis for renewal talks. Anything less than that figure is considered a lowball offer for a starter contract in the brokerage industry.
While the conflict for Barkley and Jacobs has largely been pinned on an eroding salary scale for running backs, other factors within the respective franchises have also played a role in the reluctance to make long-term extensions. While the Giants embraced Barkley as the undisputed centerpiece of head coach Brian Daboll’s 2022 offense, there is an element of institutional memory that plays into the injuries that disrupted parts of Barkley’s 2019-2021 seasons.
As for Jacobs, it is believed that the standoff is largely focused on how the Raiders want to build and allocate money to the roster, and that a significant bar extension for a running back is not something the team is prioritizing under head coach Josh McDaniels . and general manager Dave Ziegler.
A prominent agent with multiple running back negotiations to his credit said the RB value is being squeezed more than ever by teams shifting to paying No. 1 and 2 wideouts more than ever. He said the Giants’ and Raiders’ long-term buildup will reflect that in seasons to come.
“The big [running back] contracts have turned into catching a falling knife,” the agent said. “Coaches and general managers are more focused on paying two or three receivers to maximize returns on the quarterback. That money has to come from somewhere. It usually doesn’t come from the offensive line and it certainly doesn’t come at the expense of a franchise quarterback. So it comes from the pockets of running backs. That’s where it is.”
“Unless it’s a guy who can throw 80 passes and play every game explosively, running backs aren’t seen as quarterback maximizers,” he added. “They decline more quickly from a physical standpoint after five or six years, while really good receivers can potentially play at a high level throughout a quarterback’s prime. Running backs are more disposable and renewable and interchangeable. I don’t think elite No. 1 receivers and really good No. 2 receivers are seen that way. And I can prove it. Just look at the last 10 years of money received and compare that to the last 10 years of money declining. They blew past each other in opposite directions.”
That reality may ultimately be reflected in the conversations between Barkley and Jacobs over the next few days. Not to mention if any of the players will be on the field for their respective teams when training camps kick off at the end of this month.