Barkley jukes tampering accusations, regrets social media feud after leaving Giants for Eagles

Updated Mar. 14, 2024 9:06 p.m. ET

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Saquon Barkley was already set this week to visit Happy Valley and catch up with his old Penn State coach, James Franklin. Barkley says now he might have to give Franklin a hard time for getting the Philadelphia Eagles in hot water with the NFL before the new running back had even signed a contract.

Franklin said ahead of Penn State's pro day that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman spoke to Barkley and pitched him on the connection between the Eagles and Nittany Lions fan bases as just one reason to leave the rival New York Giants for Philadelphia.

That's an NFL no-no.

The NFL is reviewing if the Eagles violated tampering policies during the legal tampering window, a league spokesman said Thursday. The Eagles have denied the claims.


Barkley says there's nothing to see here.

The 27-year-old running back — who signed a three-year deal for $26 million guaranteed — said on Thursday that Franklin “misinterpreted” the interaction. Barkley said every piece of information during negotiations came through his agent.

In case the NFL starts poking around Penn State, Barkley wants to clear up any confusion when he visits with Franklin at pro day on Friday.

“I guess we'll have that conversation,” Barkley said, laughing.

Barkley and linebackers Bryce Huff and Zack Baun were introduced Thursday at the team's complex, three free-agent additions that were part of a rapid roster overhaul in the wake of the Eagles' late-season collapse. Safety C. J. Gardner-Johnson is back a year after the team let him walk away in free agency. Wide receiver DeVante Parker will receive a $4.69 million guarantee in his one-year deal, and the Eagles also signed offensive lineman Matt Hennessy.

The Eagles also agreed to a one-year deal worth $7.5 million with former Tampa Bay linebacker Devin White, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.

Also, kicker Jake Elliott, two-time Pro Bowl guard Landon Dickerson and defensive end Brandon Graham all signed deals that will keep them with the Eagles.

Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox retired and left the Eagles with just four players remaining from the 2017 Super Bowl season.

So what do all the million-dollar paydays mean? Even with all the moves, the Eagles are $39.9 million under the salary cap, per The website did not yet include Huff's deal, which is for $51 million over three years, or White's.

Barkley, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher, was the centerpiece of all the big-contract action designed to win the Eagles another one.

He endeared himself to his new teammates when he said he would “ keep the main thing, the main thing” — a popular Jalen Hurts-ism — and was warmly greeted and welcomed to Philly by Graham outside the NovaCare complex.

Barkley's first few days after leaving the Giants were a bit of a whirlwind — there was agreeing to a contract of the sort that Roseman was generally adverse to offering to running backs, the Franklin kerfuffle, and a social media feud with retired New York Giants great Tiki Barber.

Barber lashed out at Barkley for taking the deal and said on New York sports radio station WFAN, “ you're dead to me.

Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick of 2018 draft who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Giants, retorted with a series of posts on social media. He wrote at Barber, “you been a hater since I got to New York … and all the ‘ Dead to me ’ talk don’t smile in my face when you see me.” He also wrote, “I got the deal I wanted, secured more gm which wasn’t given to me before… so if fans are gonna hate me for that so be it! But I never turned my back on my teammates and always had theirs.”

Barkley sheepishly admitted on Thursday he let his emotions get the best of him.

“I don't think I really handled it the right way on social media,” he said. “I think I could have gave a proper goodbye.”

He hit free agency after the Giants elected not to put a franchise tag on him. The Eagles pounced and made Barkley the highest-paid running back in franchise history.

The Giants used the franchise tag last season on Barkley and eventually worked out a one-year, $10.1 million contract before the start of training camp. A franchise tag this year would have cost the team $12.2 million if Barkley accepted the offer.

Barkley played in 14 games last season, missing three because of a high ankle sprain. He ran for 962 yards and six touchdowns and had 41 catches, including four TDs.

Barkley has run for 5,211 yards and 35 touchdowns, along with 288 receptions for 2,100 yards and 12 TDs in his six-year career.

He now wants to play a part in making an Eagles team that reached the Super Bowl two seasons ago and started 10-1 last year until a 1-6 finish (including a playoff loss) a championship contender again.

“I know everyone's stuck on last year, but being 11-6 and making it to the first round, and that’s a down year, that’s a great culture you want to be a part of, when you have that mindset where it’s like, ‘No, we need to do way more,’” Barkley said. “I know how special this place is and how special a player I believe that I can be, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”


AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.