The New York Giants are likely parting ways with long-time running back Saquon Barkley. Can Saquon lead the New York Giants back to the playoffs? | Agree to Disagree
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, during an appearance on 98.7 ESPN Radio, the Giants likely won’t be re-signing Barkley. He added, „It looks like Barkley is headed for free agency.“
Barkley, who was drafted second overall by the Giants in 2018, won the „Rookie of the Year“ title and made two Pro Bowl appearances during his six seasons with the Giants. New York has decided not to re-sign Barkley at the end of the 2022 season, opting instead to let him hit the free market and potentially retain his talents for another year. Barkley had previously expressed interest in being a „Giant For Life“ but the past year of contract negotiations has left the nearly 27-year-old running back feeling exhausted.
When asked about his potential re-signing in the upcoming offseason, Barkley responded with a hint of his former optimism. Barkley said, „They did it last year. So, I’m numb to it. I don’t feel anything about it. If you’re going to do it, don’t wait until March 5th. Just get it over with. If not, let me go. Simple.“
The two-time Pro Bowl running back had a poor year in every aspect. His 3.9 yards per rushing attempt were the second lowest in his career during healthy seasons. His reception efficiency, once highly praised during his rookie season, is still declining, with a 2-yard decrease per target from his career-high season three years ago.
Despite this, the Giants continued to rely on him as their offensive engine, giving Barkley nearly 300 touches in the 2023 season. His 288 touches were the eighth-most in the entire NFL last season. In his five healthy seasons, plus two games in his injury-shortened 2020 season, Barkley has racked up 1,489 career touches, breaking the 300-touch mark twice.
The running back market cycle last year revealed the desperation of quality running backs searching for a payday. However, teams ultimately were right in their decisions not to pay out. In the end, most running backs, including Barkley, had a poor year.
The debate over running back contracts is familiar, and it’s tiring to go through again. The running backs who are legitimately worth the investment from a team-building perspective, like the current NFC champion Christian McCaffrey, can only secure their contracts under the right circumstances. The league’s current salary cap situation makes it challenging to compensate running backs fairly.
Without changes to the financial situation of running backs in the league, we will miss out on the opportunity for great moments like Barkley potentially representing the Giants for life and continuing to be an asset to a city that values him.