Giving Saquon Barkley the franchise tag named Giants’ best offseason move

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The New York Giants have been exceptionally busy this offseason beginning with quarterback Daniel Jones, who was signed to a long-term deal just minutes prior to the franchise tag deadline.

That deal allowed general manager Joe Schoen to immediately turn around and designate running back Saquon Barkley their franchise player, assuring he remains on the roster in 2023.

Since then, the Giants have made more than 20 transactions but none were as important as that Barkley tag, says Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report.

For one, it keeps the Giants’ offensive centerpiece in house at a relatively team-friendly price. Although $10.1 million is a lot to spend on a running back, it’s less than the $12.3 million annual value that Spotrac projected for Barkley on the open market.

Secondly, the tag doesn’t require a long-term commitment on New York’s part. That’s important because of Barkley’s injury history.

A rookie Pro Bowler in 2018, Barkley returned to form in 2022, finishing with 1,312 rushing yards, 338 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. But in the three years between his two Pro Bowl campaigns, Barkley was heavily hampered by injuries, including a torn ACL in 2020.

One bounce-back season does not prove that Barkley can stay healthy and sustain a high level of play. By using the tag, the Giants get to monitor the Penn State product for another season before making a more permanent decision on his future in New York.

The lone flaw in Knox’s statement is that the Giants do not intend to keep Barkley on the franchise tag. They will if negotiations break down but ideally, they want to sign their former first-round pick to a long-term contract.

That has always been the plan with Barkley dating back to mid-season last year, but the two sides remain apart on the annual AAV.

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Story originally appeared on Giants Wire