Saquon Barkley and 8 other former Nittany Lions set to become NFL free agents

Barkley headlines a group of nine former Penn State football players who are expected to hit the open market in the NFL this offseason when the league year begins on March 13.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) / Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK

Right now in the NFL, the focus is on the NFL Scouting Combine which will begin this week, and Penn State has 10 former players heading to Indianapolis, but it is also a big offseason for these nine former Nittany Lions who will be in search of new contracts. Before NFL teams can add college players to their rosters in the draft, they’ll try to fill holes with veterans when free agency begins with the new league year on March 13. 

Saquon Barkley is the headliner of the nine former Nittany Lions who are set to hit the open market this offseason. Last year, he was in search of a big contract, but instead, the New York Giants franchise-tagged him to hedge their bets against the recurring injuries that have nagged him throughout his career. 

The Giants could tag Barkley again, but they are not expected to. Last year, the franchise tag was for about one year and $10 million. After posting his fourth season with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his six-year career, Barkley is heading into his age 27 season and Spotrac projects his market value to be about $9.9 million per year for three seasons. 

Barkley will be joined in the open market by eight other former Penn State players: 

  • Mike Gesicki, TE
  • Donovan Smith, OT
  • Kevin Givens, DL
  • Austin Johnson, DL
  • DaQuan Jones, DL
  • P.J. Mustipher, DL
  • Jesse Luketa, LB
  • Adrian Amos, S

Barkley’s former teammate in Happy Valley, Mike Gesicki will be looking for his third NFL team after six seasons in the NFL, five with the Miami Dolphins and last year with the New England Patriots. He’s coming off a year with 29 catches for 299 yards and two touchdowns on an inept offense in Foxborough. 

Donovan Smith and Kevin Givens will also both be looking for new homes, or hoping to return to their previous ones. Smith and Given faced off in the Super Bowl, Givens playing a few snaps on San Francisco’s defensive line and Smith protecting Patrick Mahomes’s blindside. 

Smith is now a two-time Super Bowl champ in his nine-year NFL career. He played his previous eight seasons in Tampa Bay and beat Kansas City in Super Bowl LV.

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