Now that Ezekiel Elliott’s money ducks are in a bank row, it’s time for the media to move on to the next big name to need a new contract. So how about Saquon Barkley? The 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year is currently under contract until 2022 when the Giants have a team option. So in theory, Barkley will be due to get paid in 2023. How much will he get? Via NJ.com:
"“If he were my client, I’d ask for at least five years and $100 million,” the agent told NJ Advance Media. “He’ll definitely be the first $100 million running back and probably get $70 million guaranteed.”"
If he signed that deal today, that would be pretty good, but that can’t possibly be what we’re imagining for the best back in football four years from now, right? Andy Dalton signed a $96 million deal in 2014!
Khalil Mack has the biggest non-quarterback contract in NFL history at $141 million. Tyron Smith has the biggest contract for an offensive player who isn’t a quarterback at $97.6 million. Michael Thomashas the highest offensive skill position contract at $96.25 million. And Zeke has the highest contract for a running back at $90 million. Keep in mind that between the four of those guys the TOTAL guaranteed dollar amount is just over $157 million combined (as always, NFL contract numbers mean nothing).
Still, should Barkley make it to 2023 healthy and dominant, what would he be worth? He’ll be 26-years old, two years older than Zeke is right now. Of the 22 players to rush for 800 or more yards last season, only three were 26 or older – Adrian Peterson (33), Lamar Miller and David Johnson (27). It seems unlikely Barkley could withstand four more seasons as a starting running back and come out the other side with anyone looking to give him $100 million.
There’s a lifetime between now and then. Eli Manning’s contract is up after this season and Daniel Jones has a lot to prove before the Giants even consider giving him that kind of money. If Barkley has a second season like his rookie season, he’d be a fool not to hold out even next summer. 2023 is a lifetime from now in the NFL and it is the Player Empowerment Era. If Saquon Barkley wants to be the face of the NFL, he needs to get paid like he’s the face of the NFL.