Texans Offered Saquon Barkley Over $11MM deal

Texans pursued Tony Pollard and D’Andre Swift; they made Saquon Barkley an offer of over $11 million annually.

With C.J. Stroud committed to rookie-deal money through 2025 at the latest, the Texans possess an exceptional chance. They have a cheap quarterback who has star potential as a rookie around whom they can build. In order to take advantage of this offseason, the franchise changed course from Nick Caserio’s cautious approach to free agency over the first three years.

Denico Autry, Azeez Al-Shaair, Stefon Diggs, and Danielle Hunter were among the players the Texans added. Although Saquon Barkley and the organization expressed interest in working together, a deal between them did not materialize. Houston had also intended to add a higher-paid target at running back. Barkley signed with the Eagles on a three-year, $37.75MM contract that includes a $26MM signing bonus, even though they have Jalen Hurts on their roster for $51MM per year. Barkley, who made money after the Giants’ discussions resulted in a franchise tag and a lower offer last summer, is currently the fourth-highest paid running back in the NFL.

According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, Houston was prepared to go into this neighborhood for Barkley. The team made an offer to the two-time Pro Bowler that was slightly around $33 million for a three-year contract. The AAV here is slightly less than Barkley’s $12.58MM Philadelphia salary, but considering the assurance he had after signing with the team, it is understandable why the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year chose to go in the direction he did.

A handful of high-profile releases, wage reductions, or swaps have resulted from the wave of RB contracts approved in the early 2020s. Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, and others are no longer bound to eight-figure contracts annually. Since Josh Jacobs’ Packers contract only includes $12.5MM guaranteed at signing and the perennial Pro Bowler Nick Chubb is recovering from two knee operations, the Browns cut Chubb’s salary last month. Barkley did well to score the guarantee as he entered his sixth season, considering the status of the running back position.

The 27-year-old Barkley claimed he was intrigued to the Texans before thinking about the Eagles. However, the Penn State undergrad is undoubtedly connected to Pennsylvania—a large portion of his family hails from there. The Texans backed down from Barkley even though they had the Eagles beat on cap space. The organization quickly offered a nearly fully guaranteed contract to Hunter and made an intriguing promise to Mixon. The Texans agreed to send a seventh-round pick for the seasoned back just before the Bengals were about to cut loose their seven-year starter. Mixon quickly consented to new terms with the Texans: $19.75MM ($13MM guaranteed) for two years.

Wilson reports that the Texans ultimately offered Mixon a better contract than they had promised Devin Singletary. Wilson also says that the team had offered an average annual salary of $4MM to the team’s top 2023 starter. Singletary and Brian Daboll reached an agreement to reconvene in New York on a three-year, $16.5MM contract (with $9.5MM completely guaranteed).

The Texans did talk terms with D’Andre Swift and Tony Pollard, as per a Wilson pre-free agency report. Swift signed a three-year, $24MM contract with the Bears, becoming the first UFA from this year’s class to commit to a team. Pollard ultimately signed a three-year, $21.75MM contract with the Titans.

Among this year’s free agency running backs, only Barkley and Swift ($14MM) received more completely guaranteed money than Mixon, who is coming off his fourth 1,000-yard rushing season but has 1,854 career touches, which is third-most among active backs. In his 28th season, Mixon will be expected to improve a Texans rushing assault that finished 22nd the previous campaign.

The Texans will rely on Mixon, but Caserio stated that Dameon Pierce, who had a disappointing 2023 season after an outstanding rookie campaign, is still a “big part” of the team’s 2024 strategy (via SI.com’s Coty M. Davis). The 2022 fourth-round pick saw Singletary overtake him as the Texans’ lead back in the last stretch of the season, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. Though he will now be in a backfield led by Mixon, the younger back will have an opportunity to recover.

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