Don't leave us, Saquon Barkley. That's what a lot of NY Giants fans are thinking these days as we inch closer to March. There's still the option for the Giants to place the franchise tag on No. 26 again, but he doesn't want that to happen - it could lead to drama between the two sides for the second straight year.
Barkley has previously said multiple times that he wants to retire with the Giants, but he also understands the NFL is a business and he could end up elsewhere next season. In a new interview with Complex, Barkley was asked about his future and he most certainly left the door open for a parting of ways to come between him and the G-Men.
Will Saquon Barkley return to the NY Giants next season or play elsewhere?
"Yeah, I mean it never crossed my mind (playing elsewhere) until last year after I got tagged. Up until that moment, I really believed that I was gonna finish my career as a New York Giant. You know, that was a goal of mine. And that's still in play. I have so much respect for the Mara family and the Tisch family and everyone in the Giants organization. They know that but once you get to this point, you go to your contract negotiation and you go through the tag process, you realize how much of a business it is. And I remember vets always telling me this and you know I believed them, but you don't really know something until you go through it. So could I see myself in another uniform? Yeah, it's possible."- Barkley told Complex's Zion Olojede
That quote from Barkley shows that signing with a new team is on his mind, but he would also love to be back with the Giants next campaign and beyond if he and Schoen can get something done. Barkley wants an extension and he wants to get paid like one of the top RBs in the game.
Can you blame him for that? Not at all, as Barkley continues to showcase how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands. However, the injury concerns have to be in the back of Schoen's mind. Saquon put up a career-high 1,312 rushing yards in a fully-healthy 2022 season, but he took a step back this year.
Barkley suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Cardinals in Week 2, forcing him to miss three weeks. The Giants lost all of those games. In the end, Barkley finished with 962 rushing yards and six touchdowns for 2023, which was a disappointment. Missing those contests early on really hurt him and the offense as a whole.
Looking ahead to next season, Daniel Jones is expected to be healthy to start Week 1 - assuming he keeps his job - and the Giants could bring in a new WR1. Keeping Barkley around will make the excitement for the new season grow, but that's only going to happen if Schoen can find a way to make him happy. Otherwise, we very well could see Barkley don a different uniform next September.