When Christian McCaffrey signed his eye-popping, four-year, $64 million contract extension with the Carolina Panthers last month, many in the New York area had the same reaction:
If Saquon Barkley, the 23-year-old Giants running back, thought the same thing, he wasn't willing to admit that on Wednesday on a Zoom call with the media. He said he was happy for McCaffrey, and believes he deserved the money.
But he said he hasn't begun focusing on his own, possibly inevitable contract extension yet.
"I'm a big believer in taking care of the little things first," Barkley said. "For now, that means getting to meetings on time and trying to be the best player and leader I can be. I feel if I take care of that, the rest will take care of itself."
Of course, taking care of the little things isn't as easy now with the NFL enduring a "virtual" offseason thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barkley is home in New Jersey, working out in a gym he built in his basement, and participating in team meetings and Zoom calls four days per week.
It's not ideal, especially since he's coming off an ankle injury that bothered him most of the season - even though he still rushed for 1,003 yards and had 52 catches for 438 more. And he has to learn a new offense thanks to a new offensive coordinator (Jason Garrett) and head coach (Joe Judge).
And yes, the contract looms for a number of reasons. Barkley is signed through 2021, and really 2022 since picking up his fifth-year option will be a no-brainer for the Giants as long he's healthy. But at the end of this season, his representatives and the Giants can discuss a contract extension for the first time. It could be huge, given the upcoming TV deals that are expected to add billions to the NFL's revenue stream. It could also be complicated if revenues take a hit this season with a reduced schedule or games played without fans due to the COVID-19 crisis.
There's also this: Barkley's friend, Todd Gurley, was cut by the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, less than two years after he got a four-year, $60 million contract extension. It was a reminder for everyone that things change fast in the NFL, especially at a position like running back where players' bodies pay a huge toll.
'Yeah, (that was) definitely shocking," Barkley said. "But no, I don't need Todd Gurley getting cut to remind me how the NFL is. That's just the NFL. It's a business. That's why you've got to take advantage of every day, however you can."
That could mean Barkley is more likely to push for a contract extension next offseason. Or it could mean he'll be more determined than ever to prove his worth.
"I always feel I have something to prove," Barkley said. "That's always my mindset. I'm always going to try to be the best player and person I can be, not for myself but for my team."