EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants announced they have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of running back Saquon Barkley.
The deadline to exercise the option on 2018 first-round draft choices is Monday, May 3.
NFL teams are permitted to exercise the fifth-year option on first-round draft choices after they have played three years. When a player has his option exercised, his rookie contract is extended by one year and guaranteed. The player is protected against injury but isn't eligible to enter unrestricted free agency until after the conclusion of the fifth season – for Barkley that will be in 2022.
The Giants and Barkley still have the option to discuss a long-term extension.
"We fully expect him to be as good as new," team president John Mara said last month. "I mean, if anybody is going to spend 100 percent of his efforts to rehab, it will be Saquon just knowing what type of motivation he has and desire he has ... I said it at the end of the season and I'll say it again, we hope he's going to be a Giant for life and at the appropriate time we'll start those discussions."
View photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
Barkley, 24, was the second overall selection of the 2018 draft, from Penn State. He missed all but the first five quarters plus one play of the 2020 season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in Chicago in Week 2. He underwent surgery on Oct. 30 and has been rehabbing with the goal of being ready to join his teammates for the start of training camp in late July.
Barkley is one of the NFL's most dynamic offensive players. The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards in his debut season and 1,003 yards in 2019 to become the first player in Giants history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.
In one of his most recent games - on Dec. 22, 2019 - Barkley set a franchise record with 279 yards from scrimmage (189 rushing and 90 receiving) in an overtime victory at Washington. Barkley's 279 yards were the highest total by any NFL player in 2019.
Barkley, Carolina's Christian McCaffrey and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara were the only NFL players who totaled more than 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in 2018-19.
But in 2020, Barkley was limited to two games, 19 rushing attempts for 34 yards and six receptions for 60 yards.
The Giants are confident he will again be one of the NFL's top producing backs in 2021.
View photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.