Rookie’s astounding $42m payday
NFL franchise the New York Giants have shown their commitment to Saquon Barkley. Now it's up to the running back from Penn State University to prove he's worth it.
The Giants signed Barkley to a four-year, fully guaranteed contract worth $41.9 million. The deal includes a $28 million signing bonus with $20 million paid immediately, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapaport, the first to report the signing.
The second overall pick in this year's NFL draft signed his contract on Monday (AEST) when rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans reported for training camp at the club's training facility.
The guaranteed package is unprecedented for the Giants and makes him the fourth-highest paid running back in the league - which is incredible for a rookie who hasn't taken a snap in the NFL.
Former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress marvels at the contracts today's players can command.
"The game's changing," Burress told The New York Post recently. "Players are changing. I'm happy for the guys. They go out and earn it. Nobody knows how tough it is when you're down on that field. It's good it's changing with guaranteed contracts and things of that nature. The guys are definitely earning it. You can't say that they're not."
Barkley's performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in March created plenty of hype when he put up some jaw-dropping numbers.
He bench-pressed 102kg 29 times and his 10-yard split was a blazing 1.54 seconds. That was one one-hundredth of a second better than Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson's 1.55 in 2008.
In the 40-yard dash, Barkley recorded a time of 4.40 seconds. Devin Hester, known as one of the fastest kick returners in NFL history, had a time of 4.43 in 2006.
Finally, Barkley's vertical jump came in at 104cm.
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The addition of Barkley gives the Giants (3-13 last season) potentially one of the game's most explosive offences with the return to health of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, who missed 12 games last season with a broken ankle. Add wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram to the mix, and the Giants' only real concern is with whether there are enough footballs to go around.
Barkley will get his share of opportunities. He rushed for 3843 yards and 43 touchdowns at Penn State, while catching 102 passes for eight touchdowns. At 1.82m and 105kg, he averaged 145.7 total yards per game over three seasons.
"I think everybody likes to win ball games," Shepard said. "So as long as we're doing that everybody will be happy. Nobody wants to have the kind of season like we had last year. The ultimate goal is to make it to the big game. When you have weapons like this it should be fairly easy if you take care of business. I think that's where everybody's head is."
The Giants had previously signed four of their five other draft picks, including Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, B.J. Hill and quarterback Kyle Lauletta.
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur brought the rookies, quarterbacks and a few veterans in early to give them a headstart on camp.
"I've done this in the past," he said. "It is a great way for the rookies to get a lot more reps. It is a good way for the quarterbacks to get going. Those can be a very productive two days."