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Giants applying non-exclusive franchise tag to RB Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley's resurgent 2022 performance didn't earn him a long-term deal, but it did convince the Giants to keep him under team control entering 2023.

The Giants have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Barkley, NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported Tuesday, per sources. The team has since announced the news.

Barkley's franchise tag comes on the heels of New York agreeing to a four-year, $160 million deal with quarterback Daniel Jones, who was the Giants' top priority on its list of players the organization intended to retain. With Jones agreeing to a multi-year deal minutes before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday, New York was able to place the tag on Barkley, keeping the former No. 2 overall pick on the team for 2023 -- unless another club makes an offer the Giants are unwilling to match.

If another interested suitor does make such an offer, New York would receive two first-round picks from said team, creating a high price to pry Barkley from the Giants.

Barkley began his NFL career with a statement of a rookie season in which he rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns, the first of two consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns. Health issues struck in Year 3, though, and struggles in the ensuing season left many wondering if Barkley would ever reclaim his first-round abilities.

In 2022, Barkley proved he could. The 26-year-old rushed for a career-high 1,312 yards, scored 10 touchdowns on the ground and added 338 yards through the air, powering a Giants offense that helped New York return to the playoffs in their first season under new coach Brian Daboll.

Instead of serving as a swan song of a season, 2022 was Barkley's comeback campaign, prompting the Giants to find a way to keep him for at least 2023.

The NFL hasn't been eager to invest in most running backs in recent seasons, and New York could follow suit by keeping Barkley on the tag in 2023 and seeing if he can replicate his 2022 production before working toward a multi-year deal. If they desire, the Giants can also work on a long-term contract with the Penn State product before the July 17 deadline arrives for Barkley to sign his tag.

Either way, Barkley isn't heading to free agency with total freedom next week. Barring an unexpected trade or offer outside of the Giants' expectations -- an unlikely event considering the value of running backs in today's NFL -- Barkley will spend 2023 with Big Blue.

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