On Tuesday night, Giants RB Saquon Barkley was surrounded by former running backs that many believe he'll be joining in the Hall of Fame one day.
Barkley was the only active player up on stage with LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders, and Terrell Davis during the NFL's gala to kick off their 100th season. And after their Q&A on stage, Barkley surely got to chop it up with these legends to see what kind of advice he could get to use on the field in his second season.
But Tomlinson has some off the field advice for the Penn State product instead.
We all know how, at the end of the day, professional sports is a business. Players can be shopped around or let go at a whim, and though Barkley isn't in that category, he'll watch many of his current teammates hit the open market when cuts begin after Week 4 of the preseason tonight.
Barkley already earned star status after his stellar rookie season, and many believe he's going to continue that sort of production over the rest of his career. That's why Tomlinson gives him this piece of advice.
"Think like a basketball player," Tomlinson told Yahoo! Sports Kimberley A. Martin. "Which means: Don't be caught up in staying with just one team or saying, 'Oh, I want to be with this team so bad that I'm willing to take less.' It's a business at the end of the day.
"Basketball players, I respect them because LeBron [James] will say, 'I'm out. This team ain't doing what I need them to do, I'm going over here.' And I think sometimes, us football players get caught up in, 'Oh, this is a family.' If they play you, then you can believe that."
Now Barkley has some time until he'll be able to think about an extension. Being a first-round pick the Giants can use a fifth-year option on him as well, so he still has four years left on his rookie deal. Of course, Odell Beckham Jr. has his fifth-year option picked up, but the Giants extended him anyway last offseason.
Still, Tomlinson wants Barkley to start thinking about this stuff now before it comes time to get paid for real.
Make no mistake: extending Barkley is definitely on GM Dave Gettleman's long-term checklist. Barkley has not only showed what kind of offensive weapon he can be, but he was also Gettleman's first draft pick after passing on the top quarterbacks in the draft like Sam Darnold.
But you can make the argument that the same was said for Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys when he was drafted fourth overall. Now, Dallas finds themselves without their star back, who continues to holdout from camp due both sides not matching up in extension offers. Melvin Gordon is in the same boat with the Chargers as well.
And they have every right to do that in Tomlinson's eyes. Football players, now more than ever, are making sure they get their guaranteed money due to the extreme violence and unpredictable nature of the sport. Star players get even more priority in that respect.
"I set the market whenever I played," Tomlinson told Martin. "So I was already of the mindset that, 'If I don't get what I want, I'm out of here.' But I was fortunate the team said. 'You're right. We're going to pay you like this.' So I didn't have to hold out. I was prepared to do that. But I tell these young guys that right now: You've got to think like a basketball player."
At the moment, Todd Gurley is the highest paid running back in the NFL at $14.4 million annually on his four-year, $57 million deal. If Barkley continues to be the threat he has been, the market could easily be set by him when it's time for an extension.
It's all a matter of if the Giants will sync up with Barkley's idea of what he believes he deserves. They'll be determined to do so, but it'll come in time.
For now, Barkley will stay focused on carving up the gridiron every Sunday. But Tomlinson wants him to keep that advice in the back of his head.