Saquon Barkley skipping voluntary exit meeting with Giants, 'numb' to franchise tag: 'Just get it over with'

After a contentious 2023 offseason left Saquon Barkley playing on a one-year deal equivalent to the franchise tag, he and the New York Giants are back at the same starting point.

Barkley doesn't sound excited about it. With the franchise tag looming once again, Barkley addressed his pending negotiations with reporters while cleaning out his locker on Monday, a day after New York's season came to its conclusion.

He's "numb" to the franchise tag. And he doesn't intend to meet with Giants brass, who have invited players to voluntary exit interviews in an open-door setting.

“I feel like I went through the whole process last year," Barkley said of meeting with general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, per the New York Daily News. "We talked more than enough last year to be honest. Not just talking with Joe but the whole negotiation thing. I’m gonna let my agents handle that.”

As for the franchise tag, Barkley wants the Giants to use it soon if they're going to or let him test free agency. The deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag is March 5.

“They did it last year, so I’m numb to it," Barkley said. "I don’t have any feelings toward that at all. If you’re gonna do it, just don’t wait until March 5. Just get it over with. If not, let me go. Simple.”

Will Saquon Barkley return to the Giants next season? If so, will he do so under the franchise tag? (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Will Saquon Barkley return to the Giants next season? If so, will he do so under the franchise tag? (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Barkley held out last season in search of a long-term contract after the Giants applied the franchise tag valued at $10.1 million for a single season. He was one of several high-profile running backs, including Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor, to sound off on the lack of long-term job security at the position as teams widely implemented the franchise tag for top backs.

In the end, Barkley signed a one-year deal valued at $10.1 million. It reportedly included $900,000 in incentives that he did not reach. The incentive thresholds were reportedly set at 1,300 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and 65 catches. In 14 games, Barkley rushed for 962 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and caught 41 passes for 280 yards while totaling 10 touchdowns.

Barkley signed the one-year deal amid the backdrop of the Giants signing quarterback Daniel Jones to a four-year, $160 million contract. Jones regressed in 2023 during an injury-plagued season that saw him tally two touchdowns passes and six interceptions in six starts while posting a career-low 151.5 passing yards per game.

While Jones will enter 2024 with $35.5 million in guarantees for the season, Barkley's still in search of long-term security at 26 years old. Per Schoen, the franchise tag is still very much on the table.

“That’s a tool we have at our disposal," Schoen told reporters, per the Daily News. "When we redid his deal before he came to camp, that wasn’t taken out of that deal. It wasn’t a, ‘Hey, we’ll do this but no franchise tag.’ So that’s an option that we have on the table…

"I’m not saying we will, or we won’t. A lot of those conversations will be had over the next month or so.”