The “Pay Saquon Barkley” bandwagon has a new passenger in Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin.
“When you have a threat like that, he’s just a move or a broken tackle away from a big play every time he touches the ball,” Martin told The Post. “He’s probably one of the most dangerous guys in the NFL with the ball in his hand.
“You just have to keep guys like that around.”
Barring something unforeseen, Barkley will be in line to become the NFL’s highest-paid running back before the 2021 season.
“When you take care of guys who deserve it, I think it sets a precedent. It can set the standard and people come to understand like, ‘OK, if you want to make the money, this is what you have to do, you have to perform this way, you have to be committed, you have to be dedicated, you have to work hard,’ ” Martin said. “I just think it sends the right message, especially for a guy who’s not even in his prime yet.
“You definitely want to take care of guys like that.”
The cautionary tale is the Rams cutting running back Todd Gurley after handing him a four-year, $60 million extension ($45 million guaranteed) before his fourth season. Gurley, who has had left knee issues, signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Falcons.
“You’re not going to get it right all the time,” Martin said. “But only thing you can do is go on a track record, and at the end of the day, I think as a GM, as an owner, if you don’t pay this guy, someone’s going to pay Saquon. Saquon’s different.”
Ezekiel Elliott is a $15 million-per-year running back. Christian McCaffrey is a $16 million-per-year running back. Barkley will be next.
“When it’s time for him to get paid,” Martin said, “he’s going to get paid.”