Saquon Barkley’s agent disputes SI report that Roc Nation is steering the RB away from the Browns
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley at the 2018 NFL Combine
Gallery: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley at the 2018 NFL Combine
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Saquon Barkley’s agent says a report that Barkley’s agency Roc Nation has told him to pull an Eli Manning and refuse to go to Cleveland is false.
“I can say on behalf of our entire team that we would be thrilled for Saquon to go to whichever team drafts him,” his agent, Kim Miale told cleveland.com in a text response. “We know he will be a resounding success for any team fortunate enough to select him.”
Ben Baskin of SI.com, in a profile on Barkley, wrote of the running back:
“His Roc Nation handlers, however, don’t want him to be taken No. 1. They don’t want him in Cleveland. They want him to go second to the Giants and play in the media capital of the world. That’s where you can become the Face of the League. His manager even implored him to pull an Eli Manning and demand that the Browns not draft him.
“Barkley never considered the option. Sure, he likes the idea of being back in the city of his birth — even playing for the Jets, the team he grew up rooting for. And of course he’s heard countless people tell him that if he ends up in Cleveland, his career will be ruined.”
Baskin goes on to say that “he’s happy to take that risk, though. For the last few weeks he has told close friends about a vision he has. He believes that if he brings a championship to the Land, as LeBron did, he’ll be hailed as the best athlete of his generation and have a statue built in his honor.”
Roc Nation, the agency owned by Jay-Z, also represents Browns coach Hue Jackson.
Miale, who also represents top 10 running backs Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette, not only handles all of Barkley’s on-field matters and contract but also co-represents him on marketing and endorsement deals along with Michael Yormark, Roc Nation president and chief of branding and strategy.
“He is a transformational player who can go in, contribute on day one, whereas with a quarterback there may be some time where they have to develop,” Miale told The Sports Business Journal in January. “I do think he has a real chance at No. 1.”
At one point in the pre-draft process, the Browns strongly considered taking Barkley No. 1 overall, but the strategy seemed to shift back to QB at No. 1 when the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3, presumably to take a quarterback.
The thinking was that the Browns couldn’t afford to wait until No. 4 to get their first-choice QB with quarterbacks likely to to go No. 2 to the Giants and No. 3 to the Jets.
However, the Browns, who have the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks, haven’t ruled out taking Barkley with either of those picks, or somewhere in between if they trade up or down.
Browns GM John Dorsey, who will hold his pre-draft press conference in Berea on Thursday, has kept his plans under wraps, and hasn’t even his shared his top QB yet with Jackson, the coach said Tuesday in a press conference.
But at the NFL Annual Meetings last month, Jackson said Barkley is a top five pick.
“Everything that I’ve seen, he is,” Jackson said. “I think he’s definitely in the conversation. Tremendous character, tremendous football player and I think he’s going to help an organization.”