Barkley is entering his fourth NFL season.
In April, the Giants exercised his fifth year contract option so he is with the Giants through the 2022 season.
The Giants have picked up the fifth-year option on Saquon Barkley's contract … to no one's surprise.
His fully guaranteed salary for 2022 is now set at $7.217 million.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) April 28, 2021
This is the time where talks about a contract extension are a normal occurrence, but in Barkley’s case unlikely.
Because he only played two games in 2020 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury, his fourth year is absolutely critical to determining the value of his contract extension.
Prior to that, Barkley was a superstar running over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and scoring 23 touchdowns (17 rushing and 6 receiving) in 31 career games.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 29, 2019
The Giants are committed to him but need to see how he bounces back from the injury.
NY Giants “not in any hurry” to sign star RB Saquon Barkley to contract extension according to co-owner John Mara. This makes tons of sense to feel this way, as it’s basically a “wait and see” how well Saquon performs following his ACL tear this past season in 2020 #NFL @Giants
— Ray Juray III (@rjuray3) April 1, 2021
What could Barkley’s contract extension look like?
To figure that out, we should look at what his peers are getting paid in the most recent contract extensions for the position.
Market Value For Young Running Backs
Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys is the highest-paid running back in the NFL with a six-year deal worth $90 million.
Under this deal, Elliott would not be a free agent until 2027.
Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints is second with a five-year deal worth $75 million.
Though Elliott and Kamara have longer-term deals, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has a higher annual salary.
While their salaries are $15 million each year, McCaffrey’s four-year deal worth $64.06 million nets him a $16 million annual paycheck.
Kamara and McCaffrey will be free agents in 2016.
Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook has a five-year $63 million deal that nets him $12.6 million annually.
In addition to the others mentioned above, Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns is also in the 2018 draft class.
Because he was not drafted in the first round, his four-year contract offers no fifth year option.
He will be a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.
His contract negotiations will likely be of interest to the Giants as well as they determine the market value for Barkley.
Last fall, Chubb’s extension was estimated by Shawn Stevenson of Sports Illustrated.
“The projected contract extension for Nick Chubb would be a 4-year, $51.4 million contract. This deal would make Chubb the fifth highest paid running back in the NFL based on annual average value, at $12.85 million per year.”
Assuming he is healthy and has a stellar season, Barkley’s contract extension will fall somewhere between these price points of $12M to $16M per year.
Because of running backs not having long careers, the duration is likely to be a four-year deal.
The other point of interest is the amount of guaranteed money Barkley will get.
Players obviously prefer the guaranteed money when they sign their extensions to protect their long-term livelihood in the event they are released.
Almost half of McCaffrey’s contract, $30M is guaranteed; whereas, Elliott’s is about one-third of the value at $28M.
Barkley will obviously be running in 2021 to earn at or near the dollars and guaranteed money of his peers.