Saquon Barkley is hoping bigger opportunities are ahead and, oh, wouldn’t the New York Giants love it if that were true.
For now, however, this is the correct one. This game, this holiday, this clash with the Dallas Cowboys, it deserves a description – drum roll please – that deserves a sentence of its own.
The most important game of Barkley’s career.
A phenomenon and a delight, The Giants Running Back is a force of powerful, intelligent roar and one of the main reasons Big Blue fans feel significantly better about life than they usually do at this point in a season.
Brian Daboll one on one
Ahead of a crucial trip to Dallas, Giants coach Brian Daboll sits down with Erin Andrews to discuss his freshman season.
Here’s the catch: just as things are starting to spiral together and Brian Daboll’s team is offering a glimpse of a potentially bright future, a monumental franchise decision needs to be made – and it’s all about Barkley.
The 25-year-old’s rookie contract expires at the end of this season. He is currently exercising his fifth-year option. Choices abound. There may be more than one right decision. Maybe there isn’t. Either way, the Giants front office knows they’re on the clock and in the hot seat because how this development is handled will either please or infuriate the fan base.
The Giants are allowed to franchise Barkley, and could do so twice, for a combined total of about $27 million.
New York could offer Barkley a new deal where the asking price would surely make him one of the highest-paid RBs of all time with the potential to match the $64 million over four years the Carolina Panthers gave Christian McCaffrey , before he was eventually treated to San Francisco.
Or they could let him go, a prospect only conceivable in any way due to disagreement over the issue of how much you should pay your star running back — and for how long.
During bye week, designated by the organization as a self-imposed and artificial deadline for closing contracts, there were discussions between the Giants and Barkley’s reps, but things didn’t get colored.
But that’s it. Exactly here. A great performance against the Cowboys, especially in a win, and Barkley could be close to writing his own check. Because the Giants have long waited for this kind of opportunity, a monumental Thanksgiving scramble, no less, with plenty of divisional factors and playoff implications.
When he performs, when he conjures up for them a glorious Turkey Day meal in Dallas (4:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App) that Giants fans will remember each year when it comes time to fill and prep and calorie surplus is life without it will be unimaginable.
If not, the result might be different. If something like what happened against the Detroit Lions last week is repeated, the narrative will be different. As the Lions rolled to a 31-18 in East Rutherford, NJ, Barkley — who came on as the leading rushing player in the NFL — was held for 22 yards with 15 carries.
Barkley hits back
Saquon Barkley sat down with Michael Strahan earlier this season to discuss how he’s managed to have a rebound season.
If this is the beginning of a decline in the Giants’ fortunes, Barkley’s case for heaps of cash will have weakened, and not by a bit.
“This is as fascinating as a Thanksgiving Day game that we’ve had for years because it means something for both teams,” FS1’s Nick Wright said in First Things First.
“If the Giants lose, it could fall apart quickly. If you look at what the Giants have for the rest of the season, they have a brutal rest of the way. It’s in the game for them to go 7-2 to miss the playoffs go. It might go sideways.”
New York has the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, with two games against the red-hot Washington Commanders, two more against the Philadelphia Eagles 9-1, and another against the Minnesota Vikings 8-2.
Having so much at stake against an opponent like Dallas (7-3, same as the Giants) adds an extra layer. The Cowboys have been excellent defensively and will be gearing up to get tough and physical.
Edge rusher Micah Parsons recently said that to stay motivated, he just likes to be around people who “tell me I suck”. He doesn’t, not even close, so he’ll probably be pretty lonely.
It’s a beautiful encounter, but an ugly loss for those on the wrong end, as they will be left in limbo in a season where 7-4 isn’t quite enough in the resurgent NFC East.
It’s a celebration between two teams striving for more – and a running back who has a game to turn on the magic and maybe get whatever he desires.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Here you can subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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