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Saquon Barkley denies tampering, says James Franklin ‘misinterpreted'

Saquon Barkley denies tampering, says James Franklin ‘misinterpreted' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

During his introductory press conference with the Eagles on Thursday afternoon, running back Saquon Barkley said there was no tampering this week.

James Franklin simply “misinterpreted” the situation, Barkley said.

The Eagles already denied any improper contact with Barkley earlier this week but the NFL is reportedly investigating any possible tampering that might have led to Barkley’s joining the Eagles on a three-year deal.

Barkley on Thursday tried to clear it up.

“Coach Franklin, I think, kind of misinterpreted,” Barkley explained. “The truth was the sales pitch to Penn State, how many Penn State fans are Philadelphia Eagles fans. But that was through my agent and my agent told me that. It happens. I’m going to let Philly handle that.”

At Penn State spring media day on Tuesday, head coach James Franklin made an offhand comment about his former player that brewed up controversy.

“For him now to to come back and be able to play within the state in Philadelphia, he said that was one of the first things that Howie said to him on the phone as part of kind of his sales pitch to him,” Franklin said, “was not not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that but obviously the connection with Penn State and the fan bases as well.”

Oops.

The problem with that quote is that during the NFL’s negotiating period, NFL GMs are permitted to speak with just player agents or players without agents. So if Roseman spoke to Barkley directly, it would be tampering and the Eagles could face a penalty. They could potentially get slapped with a fine or even lose draft picks.

The NFL’s negotiating period opened at noon on Monday and lasted through 4 p.m. on Wednesday when the new league year began. Any direct contact with Barkley during that period would have been impermissible.

Barkley spent his first six seasons in the NFL with the rival New York Giants but agreed to a three-year, $37.75 million contract with the Eagles on Monday afternoon.

The 27-year-old Barkley will actually be back on Penn State’s campus on Wednesday for the Nittany Lions pro day. He’ll be talking to some of the Penn State players hoping to make the jump to the NFL.

He’ll also probably have a slightly uncomfortable chat with his former head coach about

“So, yeah,” Barkley said with a smile. “I guess we’ll have that conversation.”

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