Giants appear unlikely to tag Saquon Barkley as franchise window opens

The window that will determine the fate of New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is officially open.

Beginning on Tuesday, February 20 and extending through Tuesday, March 5 at 4:00 p.m. ET, teams can designate franchise and transition players. And it’s during that two-week window where Barkley’s future in blue will be decided.

Should general manager Joe Schoen apply the franchise tag to Barkley for the second consecutive season? What would that mean for their relationship? And do the Giants want to spend $12.1 million fully guaranteed on a running back?

All of those questions lead to fierce debate but in short order, they will be answered.

Some maintain that keeping Barkley in East Rutherford is paramount. Others, like Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, believe it’s time for the Giants to let Barkley go find success elsewhere.

They should let Barkley become a free agent on March 13. They should let Barkley try to be someone else’s Christian McCaffrey since they don’t believe he can be that for them.

Parting ways would make sense for both the player and the team.

Letting Barkley hit free agency would do right by someone who did right by the Giants last season when he didn’t have to. It would let him find his true value on the open market before it depreciates for good due to his age, 27, and mileage.

Just as importantly, it would give Barkley a chance to win.

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, who often serves as press secretary for the Giants, doesn’t expect Schoen to use the franchise tag on Barkley this time around. And not because they want to give him a chance to win elsewhere, as Leonard alluded to, but because they view him as a broken-down vehicle on a failing frame.

The bottom line is the Giants are not expected to allocate $12 million on their salary cap for one running back, especially someone they likely view as in decline.

The Giants have conducted studies at the position that show most running backs can trend upward through the age of 26.

Once 27 hits, there is a cliff off which most start to fall.

Barkley turned 27 on Feb. 9.

Barkley has dealt with injury issues throughout his career and missed another three games last season as the result of an ankle sprain. He failed to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards one season after posting career-best numbers.

Despite that, the Giants have continued to publicly express their desire to keep Barkley long-term. He has shared similar sentiments but has also acknowledged that he’s given thought to playing elsewhere.

One thing Barkley has been adamant about is that the Giants don’t wait until March 5 to decide on the franchise tag. He prefers that the call be made as soon as possible.

Schoen is expected to meet with Barkley’s recently adjusted representation at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis next week.

Tick tock.

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