While this may just be 11-hour rhetoric aimed at closing a deal before Monday’s franchise deadline, several league sources familiar with the stalled contract talks between New York Giants’ Sakwon Barkley and Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh Jacobs pointed out, that both players are preparing to serve part of the training camp if they can not get to the expansions.
As of Thursday morning, sources familiar with the talks said little progress has been made on the renewal for Barkley and Jacobs, and that significant steps need to be taken for any chance of a deal closing before Monday’s 4:00 pm ET deadline.
While the key issues for Jacobs have not been characterized, one source said Barkley’s expansion is still pretty much a guaranteed money gap. According to the source, the Giants continue to strike a deal with guarantees that fall short of the minimum that Barkley could lock in under the next two franchise tags. The franchise tag for 2023 is $10.091 million. If Barkley were tagged a second time in 2024, his guaranteed amount would be at least $12.1 million in 2024. Over a two-year period, this would net the giants running back a guaranteed total of $22.2 million.
However, internal salary cap models for some NFL teams are already predicting that the 2024 franchise for running backs could top $13 million. If so, the second tag for Barkley would have a higher figure, suggesting that Barkley could expect a total payout of more than $23.1 in guaranteed money across consecutive tags. As it stands, the source said the giants continue to offer less guaranteed money than in any scenario. A general rule of thumb for agents negotiating renewals for franchise tagged players is to make the guaranteed money of consecutive tags the basis for renewal negotiations. Anything less than this number is considered a low starting contract offer in the agent industry.
While the conflict between Barkley and Jacobs was largely due to the erosion of the runner pay scale, other factors within the respective franchises also played a role in the reluctance to make long-term renewals. While the Giants have embraced Barkley as undeniably central to head coach Brian Daball’s 2022 offense, there is an element of institutional memory that plays into the injuries that cut short part of Barkley’s seasons from 2019 to 2021.
As for Jacobs, it is believed that the impasse is largely due to how the Raiders want to build and distribute money across the roster, and that a significant expansion of the bar for running back is not a priority for the team under head coach Josh McDaniels. and general manager Dave Ziegler.
One prominent agent with numerous back-run talks under his belt said that RB’s value is declining more than ever because teams are shifting more than ever towards #1 and #2 payouts. He said the Giants and Raiders long-term build will reflect this over the next few seasons.
“Big [running back] contracts have become 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. This money has to come from somewhere. It usually doesn’t come at the expense of the offensive line, and certainly not at the expense of the franchise’s quarterback. So it’s coming out of runners’ pockets. That’s where it is.”
“Unless it’s a guy who can catch 80 passes and make an explosive play every game, running backs aren’t viewed as maximizing quarterbacks,” he added. “They decline physically faster after five or six years, while really good receivers have the potential to play at a high level throughout a quarterback’s prime. Running backrests are more disposable, renewable and interchangeable. I don’t think elite #1 receivers and really good #2 receivers are perceived that way. And I can prove it. Just look at the last 10 years of receiving money and compare it to the last 10 years of receiving money back. They flew past each other in opposite directions.”
This reality may eventually affect the Barkley-Jacobs negotiations over the next few days. Not to mention whether any of the players will be playing for their teams when training camp starts later this month.