The New York Giants were one of the NFL's biggest surprises last season. At 9-7-1, the team reached the playoffs and knocked off the third-seeded Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card round. First-year head coach Brian Daboll won NFL Coach of the Year and deserves a lot of credit for the team's success. Quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley were also key cogs to the Giants' impressive season.
Jones threw for 3,205 yards and had 15 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, sporting a 92.5 passer rating. He also had 708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Barkley finished with 10 touchdowns and a career-high 1,312 rushing yards, adding in another 338 yards on 57 catches.
The Giants would like to keep both players, of course. So, they're paying Jones a lot of money in a new contract extension. And they're paying Barkley a much more modest amount — for now.
Jones and the Giants agreed to a four-year, $160 million extension that also includes $35 million in incentives. If Jones is able to keep up his strong play, he very well could make close to $200 million. In terms of average annual salary, Jones is 7th among quarterbacks, tied with Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott.
In part because of Jones' massive deal, the Giants aren't able to offer Barkley as much money. Instead, they tagged him with a non-exclusive franchise tag. Barkley can return to the Giants for one season, and he'll earn $10.09 million. However, the non-exclusive tag gives Barkley the option to negotiate a deal with another team, and then the Giants would have the opportunity to match any contract he receives.
If Barkley goes elsewhere, he'll likely score a longer-term contract to offer some extra job security. That's critical for a running back, especially one who's experienced some injuries, as Barkley has. Running back salaries in the NFL are never as bountiful as what quarterbacks receive, but they can still make a healthy living. Last year's highest-paid running back was Christian McCaffrey, who earned just over $16 million.
Another option is for Barkley to play this season in New York and then negotiate an extension from there. He'll have to decide whether he wants to tackle this year as a "prove it" season or if he'd rather earn his money now.
After all, at 26 years old, this could be his last chance for one big contract. And though fans don't like to admit it, quite often in the NFL, financial security is just as important as winning.