With the NFL Draft over, and the Schedule released, the full focus of the Giants news cycle is on Saquon Barkley’s contract negotiations. There are varying reports on what the Giants are offering and what Saquon and his camp are declining. This has even prompted Saquon’s agent to chime in on Twitter:
This is not true.
— Kimberly Miale (@kimmiale) May 13, 2023
While Giants fans patiently wait to see what unfolds with these negotiations, let’s look back on another contract negotiation in Giants’ history. In 2002, Michael Strahan and the Giants attempted to work out an extension for the defensive end. Strahan was vocal about his issues with the Giants. This prompted Running Back Tiki Barber to chime in and created a media storm that makes Saquon Barkley’s contract negotiations look like a cakewalk.
In 2001, Michael Strahan set the single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. This was good timing, as Strahan was entering a contract year. While both sides wanted to get a deal done, Strahan and the Giants’ contract negotiations came to a standstill in February, and Strahan said publicly that 2002 would be his last year in Blue. Strahan went on to say that he didn’t believe the Giants were doing everything they could to be competitive and were “sacrificing” the 2002 season.
Having your best player and team leader publicly say this about your team is a huge deal. What became an even bigger deal was when Tiki Barber decided to give his 2 cents on the situation.
In an exclusive interview with the New York Post, Tiki Barber defended the Giants. He claimed that Strahan was being greedy in not trusting the Giants. Part of Strahan’s beef was that the Giants were splitting his signing bonus across 2 years. Just a year prior, Barber, Wide Receiver Amani Toomer, and Cornerback Jason Sehorn all agreed to do this with their contracts. Tiki also claimed that Strahan’s claim that the Giants don’t care about winning was incorrect and said that if Strahan was willing to take a more team-friendly deal, that would help the Giants win. Later on, Strahan would claim Barber said what he said to make himself look better. The back and forth between the players obviously caused headlines and even forced Jim Fassel to hold team meetings.
Eventually, the Giants and Strahan would agree on a 7-year contract extension worth 46 million dollars that September. But the headlines it caused in the media will forever live in infamy.
Anytime a good player and a team are in the middle of contract negotiations, it brings some drama. We have seen that with Barkley not signing the franchise tag and the reports that he has continuously turned down contract offers. We saw it earlier in the offseason with Dexter Lawrence sitting out OTAs. Hopefully, the “drama” of this offseason results in a playoff season like it did with the Giants back in 2002.
Whatever happens with Barkley, let’s just be thankful that the drama isn’t like it was 21 years ago with Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan.
Photo: Blue Collar Blueshirts