The Saquon Barkley contract watch is officially on.
That began when Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey reportedly recently inked a four-year, $64 million deal, making him the highest paid at his position with an annual $16 million tag.
Or is it?
Instead, it should be about the Giants looking to form a young core behind Barkley, quarterback Daniel Jones the presumed tackle Iowa Tristan Wirfs as the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft.
Barkley’s contract will need to be addressed within the year, but it should be in conjunction with the upcoming resignings of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, tight end Evan Engram, and even safety Jabrill Peppers in the near future.
It’s time for the Giants to solidify a young core based on some resignings and developing.
Wide receiver Darius Slayton, left guard Will Hernandez, defensive end Dexter Lawrence, linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Ryan Connelly and David Mayo, along with cornerback DeAndre Baker and safety Julian Love could be mainstays for the future.
After he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Barkley received a four-year, $31 million deal (nearly $8 million per year) and received a $20 million signing bonus. His deal will expire after the 2021 season and the Giants have the opportunity for a fifth-year option.
Both McCaffrey and Barkley are arguably among the top five-to-10 backs in the league.
With Barkley’s injuries last season, McCaffrey has pulled ahead in a production comparison and he does have the advantage of being drafted a year earlier in 2017.
According to reports and sources, Barkley has been busy in the offseason, working to put himself into a position for a blockbuster year.
Do the Giants have to immediate reciprocate with Barkley?
GM Dave Gettleman implied during a video presser Monday that the Giants won’t be writing any big checks during the rest of the spring and summer. He didn’t refer to Barkley, but instead spoke on his free-agent dealings.
Don’t count on defensive end Jadeveon Clowney becoming a Giant or Markus Golden returning via the free-agent route.
Gettleman began his transformation last season by creating roughly $30 million through some transactions and further escalated this offseason with an infusion of young talent.
Free agent cornerback James Bradberry, and linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell should help patch a tattered defense.
“I think we’ve done a good job, it’s not perfect,” said Gettleman. “I’m pleased with where we’re at going into the draft.’’
He also noted that new deals for defensive tackle Delvin Tomlinson, tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers will be in the offing soon.
Former Patriots’ tackle Nate Solder, who was Gettleman’s first big-ticket item, could be working for his job this summer as Gettleman has acknowledged his lack of production.
Even though Barkley was Gettleman’s draft gem, a new deal this season isn’t a major priority.
It also is unlikely Barkley will stage any type of holdout this summer, as he is focused on just getting back in the fold.
However, Gettleman could sign Barkley to a new deal in the range of $18 to $20 million to stay within the market that McCaffrey just created before it escalates further.
Resign Barkley in late August and created some cap space by releasing some veterans who have a short shelf live remaining (Solder for one). They already shed Antoine Bethea, Alec Ogletree, and Kareem Martin.
The overall moves may not produce a playoff spot in January, but the future can produce several ahead.