Sources: Giants’ Saquon Barkley and Raiders’ Josh Jacobs are prepared to sit out of training camp without extensions

Sources: Giants’ Saquon Barkley and Raiders’ Josh Jacobs are prepared to sit out of training camp without extensions

Charles Robinson

While it may be just 11th-hour rhetoric aimed at getting a deal done before Monday’s franchise tag deadline, multiple league sources familiar with stalled contract talks between the New York GiantsSaquon Barkley and the Las Vegas RaidersJosh Jacobs indicated that both players are preparing to sit out of portions of training camp if extensions can’t be reached.

As of Thursday morning, sources familiar with talks said there was little extension progress for Barkley and Jacobs, and that significant strides would need to be made for any chance of deals before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01: New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) prior to the National Football League game between the New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts on January 1, 2023 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Giants head coach Brian Daboll has helped make Saquon Barkley a critical part of New York’s offense. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

While the key issues for Jacobs were not characterized, one source said that a Barkley extension continues to largely be a guaranteed money gap. According to the source, the Giants continue to pursue a deal with guarantees that fall short of the minimum of what Barkley could lock in under the next two franchise tags. The franchise tag for 2023 is $10.091 million. If Barkley were to be tagged a second time in 2024, his guaranteed number would be at least $12.1 million in 2024. Over the two-year span, that would net the Giants running back a guaranteed total of $22.2 million.

However, the internal salary cap models for some NFL teams are already projecting that the 2024 franchise tag for running backs could exceed $13 million. If that’s the case, a second tag for Barkley would come at the higher figure, which suggests Barkley could be staring at a total payout of more than $23.1 in guaranteed money under consecutive tags. As it stands, the source said the Giants are continuing to offer less guaranteed money than either scenario. A general rule of thumb for agents negotiating extensions for franchise-tagged players is to make the guaranteed money of consecutive tags the baseline for extension talks. Anything short of that figure is considered a lowball starting contract offer in the agent industry.

While the conflict for Barkley and Jacobs has largely been pinned on an eroding salary scale for running backs, other factors inside the respective franchises have also played a part in the reticence to do long-term extensions. While the Giants embraced Barkley as the unquestioned centerpiece in head coach Brian Daboll’s offense in 2022, there is an element of institutional memory that factors in the injuries that disrupted portions of Barkley’s seasons from 2019 to 2021.

As for Jacobs, it’s believed that the impasse is largely focused on how the Raiders want to build and allocate money across the roster, and that a sizable bar-setting extension for a running back is not something the team is prioritizing under head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.

One prominent agent with multiple running back negotiations under his belt said RB value is being depressed more than ever by teams shifting toward paying Nos. 1 and 2 wideouts more than ever. He said the long-term build of the Giants and Raiders will reflect that over the next few seasons.

“The big [running back] contracts have turned into catching a falling knife,” the agent said, “Coaches and general managers are more focused on paying two or three receivers to maximize the return on the quarterback. That money has to come from somewhere. It’s usually not coming out of the offensive line and it’s definitely not coming at the expense of a franchise quarterback. So it comes out of the pockets of running backs. That’s where it is.”

“Unless it’s a guy that can catch 80 passes and make explosive plays every game, running backs aren’t seen as quarterback maximizers,” he added. “They diminish faster from a physical standpoint after five or six years, whereas really good receivers can potentially play at a high level through a quarterback’s entire prime. Running backs are more disposable and renewable and interchangeable. I don’t think elite No. 1 receivers and really good No. 2 receivers are seen that way. And I can prove it. Just look at the last 10 years of receiver money and compare it to the last 10 years of running back money. They blew by each other going in opposite directions.”

That reality may ultimately be reflected in the direction of the Barkley and Jacobs talks over the next few days. Not to mention whether either player is on the field for their respective teams when training camps kick off at the end of this month.

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