Report: Saquon Barkley seeking Christian McCaffrey-level contract in free agency

Report: Saquon seeking McCaffrey-level contract in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Saquon Barkley is going to be running to the bank, but it may not be in the New York-New Jersey area.

The New York Giants running back is the top free agent running back heading into the 2023 offseason. After being hampered by injuries over the last three seasons, Barkley rushed for 1,312 yards (fourth in the NFL) to go along with 10 rushing touchdowns and 338 yards through the air across 16 games in 2022. He also shined in the Giants’ wild card win, scoring twice on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.

Barkley played the 2022 season on the fifth-year option as part of his rookie deal, giving him a chance to hit the open market. As the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, that option gave him a base salary of $7.2 million.

The 26-year-old said he is “realistic” about his contract desires, and part of those expectations include doubling his salary.

FOX Sports’ Ralph Vacciano reported on Monday that the Giants offered Barkely a deal worth $12 million annually during the season and that the two sides weren’t close. Vacciano said that Barkley is seeking a deal closer to the one Christian McCaffrey signed in April of 2020.

General manager Joe Schoen said on Monday that he hopes to re-sign the running back.

“You know, Saquon, he's a good player, he's a great teammate,” he said. “I loved getting to know him this season, and he's a guy we would love to have back. It's just, again, we haven't had our end of the season meetings yet.”

Only 11 teams have more than $16 million in cap space for 2023 as of Tuesday, with the Chicago Bears leading the bunch at over $115 million. The Giants, meanwhile, have over $45 million in cap space, but they also have to make a decision on quarterback Daniel Jones after declining the fifth-year option on his rookie deal last April.

With Chicago’s David Montgomery among the free agent running back group, as well, the owners of the No. 1 pick could also be in the mix for the No. 1 available RB.