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Giants RB Saquon Barkley on contract situation: One way to show worth is to not play

Saquon Barkley tweeted "it is what it is" after Monday's franchise tag deadline came and went without a long-term contract, but the situation does not seem likely to just end there. 

In an interview on The Money Matters Podcast that was recorded on July 11 and published on Monday, the Giants running back expanded on possible future scenarios, including the idea of not playing the start of the 2023 NFL season -- or even the full season in its entirety.

"My leverage is I could say, 'f--- you' to the Giants, I could say, 'f--- you to my teammates,'" Barkley said. "And be like, 'You want me to show you my worth? You want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I won't show up. I won't play a down.' And that's a play I could use."

Barkley has yet to sign the franchise tag tender placed on him in March and he wouldn't incur any fines for skipping training camp because he's currently not under contract. Giants veterans are due to report to camp on July 25.

The two sides can still negotiate a one-year contract, but a multi-year deal is off the table for 2023. Barkley is eligible to get the franchise tag again in 2024 for a 120% increase on his 2023 contract, which is worth $10.091 million. Back-to-back franchise tags on Barkley would cost the Giants $22.2 million over two seasons.

"Anybody who knows me knows that's not something I want to do," Barkley said of possibly missing games. "But is it something that crossed my mind, I never thought I would ever do that. But now I'm at a point where it's like, 'Jesus, I might have to take it to this level.' Am I prepared and willing to take it to the level. I don't know. That's something I gotta sit down. I gotta sit down and talk to my family. I gotta sit down and talk to my team, gotta really strategize about this. Can't just go off emotions. I can try to get as much money as I can, but what really matters is winning. I know if I'm able to bring a championship to New York, that's going to go miles more ahead than this contract."

Barkley is coming off a rejuvenating year that saw a career-high mark in rushing yards (1,312) and his first Pro Bowl trip since his rookie season back in 2018. Adding 10 touchdowns and 338 receiving yards off 57 catches in 2022, Barkley was a crucial part of New York's playoff-bound campaign and maintained that energy in his playoff debut, generating 109 total yards (53 rushing, 56 receiving) and scoring twice in the Giants' upset win over the Vikings in the wild-card round.

Barkley's successful comeback season was a sight for sore eyes in New York, especially as it coincided with Brian Daboll's arrival. The rookie head coach perfectly schemed Barkley into the star that ransacked the NFL during his first two seasons until a pair of significant injuries hampered Barkley. Daboll even unlocked something within quarterback Daniel Jones, who greatly benefitted from his play in 2022 once signing a four-year, $160 million contract in March.

The same can't be said for Barkley, who is experiencing first-hand the diminishing running back pay scale. While it remains to be seen what happens next in this ongoing stare-down, the Giants could get a first look at life without the star RB during practice next week.

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