Dexter Lawrence was at the New York Giants’ training facility Friday doing his signature sack dance with head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen after officially putting pen to paper on his four-year, $90 million contract extension.
Lawrence joined quarterback Daniel Jones, a fellow 2019 first-round pick, as a cornerstone franchise piece locked in at big money for the future.
But the Giants still have one piece left to lock in, and all eyes are on running back Saquon Barkley’s situation with the team. He’s franchise tagged, though he and the Giants are hoping to work something out like Jones and Lawrence did by the time training camp rolls around.
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Lawrence, knowing how much Barkley means to the team, said the All-Pro running back will be getting his big payday.
“I think Saquon is going to get what he deserves,” he told reporters Friday. “He’s a great player, he’s a great leader for us. One of the top players on the team. I’m excited to see what’s up for him.”
Schoen recently told “Good Morning Football” that Barkley’s representatives have agreed to set up a meeting post-NFL Draft to see “what the appetite” is regarding a potential deal.
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Schoen and the Giants want their leader in the backfield on the roster, but a deal has to make sense for both sides.
“Listen, Saquon is a very good football player, captain last year. He’s a good locker room guy. I love him,” Schoen explained. “We want him to be here. 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.”
The running back market isn’t like the market for quarterbacks or even defensive tackles like Lawrence. It’s been a position for which teams have found cost-effective talent in later rounds in the draft. Think Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco, a seventh-round pick out of Rutgers last year who ended up getting the lion’s share of carries for the Super Bowl champions as the season progressed.
But Barkley has proven to be one of the most dynamic, two-way running backs in the league since he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Giants in 2018. And in Daboll’s offense, Barkley has been the focal point. He had 1,312 yards on 295 carries last season with 10 touchdowns along with 338 receiving yards.
That’s elite production, and Barkley likely wants to be paid like an elite player.
Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers leads the pack with just over $16 million in average annual value after signing his four-year deal while playing for the Carolina Panthers. The New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara makes $15 million per year, while the Minnesota Vikings’ Dalvin Cook and Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry make $12.6 million and $12.5 million, respectively.
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The Giants reportedly offered Barkley a deal that was worth $14 million per season, but talks fell through because the structure of the deal and guaranteed money weren’t to his liking.