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Will Saquon Barkley or Josh Jacobs Hold Out?

With the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign a long-term deal approaching, Cam takes a look at what might happen with Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 02: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants leaps over Adrian Amos #38 of the Chicago Bears for extra yardage during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 02, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The band Talking Heads had a popular song called Psycho Killer, with the line, “Run run, run run run away,” which made me think of the plight of today’s running backs in the NFL.

The ascension of Tony Pollard in Dallas made Ezekiel Elliott expendable. Dalvin Cook was released by the Vikings. Austin Ekeler couldn’t get a contract extension from the Chargers. Although Elliott’s skills have been eroding for years, with Pollard finally making him ultimately expendable, the Chargers absolutely need Ekeler, and the Vikings are definitely worse without Cook. His replacement, Alexander Mattison, is a fine running back, but he’s not Cook.

Now there are two more RBs that will be in the spotlight. Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders) and Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) have had the franchise tag slapped on them, but neither has signed yet. With the deadline for them to sign long-term deals set for today at 4 p.m. EST, we should get news soon if either does manage to get an extension.

The 25-year-old Jacobs led the league in rushing last season with 1,653 YDs and 12 TDs. He’s on an offensively-minded team with an offensively-minded HC in Josh McDaniels, yet there is definitely dysfunction in Vegas. Jacobs vocally wanted Aaron Rodgers and has had to settle for the often-injured Jimmy Garoppolo. By not signing the tag, Jacobs may just be posturing for more money, or he may be looking to shoot himself out of town, forcing a trade. It’s a risky play with the RB position being diminished greatly by the league. If he doesn’t get a deal before the deadline, his next move may be to demand a trade.

The situation doesn’t seem as grim for Barkley and the Giants. Although he has turned down their offer of $19.5M in guaranteed money, when numbers like this are bouncing around, it’s usually only a matter of time before things get resolved. He is seeking a long-term deal worth at least $14M per year, putting him in the top three at his position. The obvious comp for Barkley is Christian McCaffrey, who signed a four-year/$64M deal with a $21.5M signing bonus and $38M guaranteed. Barkley is still only 26 years old and is in line for a similar deal. There’s been posturing that he’ll hold out, but my guess is that the two sides will come together at some point today.

For Barkley, expect a deal in the range of five years/$70M ($14M per season), with $20M as a signing bonus and $35M guaranteed. This fairly compensates Barkley as one of the premier backs in the game. And on a team that just won a playoff game for the first time since defeating Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, playing hardball with Barkley is extremely shortsighted, sending the wrong message to their fans.