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ESPN Thinks Saquon Barkley Will Get His Desired Pay Day

Despite his injury history, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is among those pending free agents at his position most likely to get a nice payday.

The New York Giants and running back Saquon Barkley will again try to find common ground in contract negotiations this offseason. The biggest hurdle in them doing so is that Barkley is among a free-agent class of running backs that figures to hit the market when free agency officially opens on March 13.

General manager Joe Schoen has left the door open for Barkley's return to the team, but New York will not be using the franchise tag to retain him.

The question is whether Barkley will get anything close to the payday he's reportedly seeking or will he, in a crowded free-agent market that will also include Tony Pollard of the Cowboys, Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, and Derrick Henry of the Titans, have to settle?

ESPN's Bill Barnwell thinks Barkley will be the beneficiary of the former. He stands the best chance of being the only running back on the market to earn more than the $10 million per season benchmark set for the league's top backs.

"Who, if any, among the star free-agent running backs will get paid?" Barnwell wrote. "Some sources I talked to think the Giants' Saquon Barkley has the best chance to clear the $10 million-per-year mark. Barkley is looking for more than that, and it's possible he could get closer to what he's looking for."

Barnwell believes Barkley and Jacobs are the two running backs most likely to receive the best contract offers of all the free agents available. However, Barnwell also believes all free agent backs will take less than initially hoped.

"The running back market is flooded with talent, and all of the factors that frustrated top backs like Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Austin Ekeler a year ago are still present. Jacobs, still just 26 years old, is another one to watch if any of these guys are going to get nice deals, but it could be rough out there again for the position."

Every free agent back in the league will pay attention to what Barkley and the Giants decide to do. As he arguably is the top back available, his deal—regardless of whether it comes from the Giants—will essentially be the blueprint other teams use when signing a free agent running back this offseason.