Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants have until July 17 to come to a long-term contract, or the running back will play 2023 under the $10.1 million franchise tag.
Unless he sits out the entire season.
Barkley told reporters Sunday following his youth football camp in Jersey City that sitting out the campaign is an option he'd consider if it comes to that.
"I think that's a conversation," he said. "Like you said, that's a card I could play. That comes up in conversation if something don't get done by July 17. ... We got a little bit of time in between there. When that date comes up, then I'll have to sit down with my team, sit down with my family and make decisions. See what we're going to do. What's the next game plan? What's the next move?"
The first thing that comes to mind when a player suggests he might sit out is Le'Veon Bell. The former Pittsburgh Steelers star back skipped the 2018 season during a contract dispute. Bell got paid by the Jets the following season before he quickly washed out of the NFL, never the same back as he was before skipping a year. Bell has since said he regrets the decision.
Barkley noted that he has yet to go through all the machinations of his options.
"I think when you sit back and you look at it, obviously there is the situation where it happened with Le'Veon, and some people say it didn't work out for him or whatever," Barkley said. "I think I would have to sit down and actually go through that whole process and think about that whole process when that situation comes up, if it comes up. For me, it's like, you got until July 17. They could say what they want. We can say what we want.
"At the end of the day, I only can focus on the little things and I can focus on the moment, and I think I've been vocal before to you guys that I'm the type of guy that just lives in the now. Just one day at a time, one day at a time. Now if that day comes up and I have to sit down and have that conversation, then I would sit down and have that conversation. We'll see what's the best plan for me to do."
Barkley said he's been frustrated by "untruthful" and "misleading" reports leaking about his ongoing contract negotiations with the front office aimed at making him "look like I'm greedy."
"I would like to address that. I feel like there's been some things out there that's been misleading," he said. "You know, obviously, the sources or the stories that have been out there, but I've been public, I came out public and I've been open about it. I said, 'I want to be a Giant for life.' This is where I want to be, and at the end of the day, it's all about respect. That's really what it is."
Following two injury-plagued seasons, Barkley is coming off a bounce-back campaign, rushing for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns on a career-high 295 attempts, earning his second Pro Bowl nod -- his first since his rookie campaign.
The 26-year-old has not signed the $10.1 million franchise tag and, therefore, will not be at the Giants' mandatory minicamp this week. Barkley might not be attending, but his presence will be felt, with coaches and teammates surely asked about his status and importance to the club and their thoughts on the back sitting out the season.