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New York Giants holding out hope for Saquon Barkley trade

Andrew Buller-Russ

When Joe Schoen accepted the New York Giants’ general manager gig, he noted to the media a desire to clear roughly $40 million off their 2022 cap. We’ve seen some of those beginning stages take effect with several veterans either let go, or asked to take a pay cut. Could a Saquon Barkley trade still be in the works?

According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, there’s a growing belief that come 2022, Barkley will no longer be in the starting lineup, or anywhere on the Giants’ roster for that matter.

He notes that they remain hopeful a team will be enticed by the rushing/receiving threat Barkley offers. The suggestion by Graziano is that a mid-round pick in April’s draft could be just enough to get the Giants to say yes to a trade.

Really, the issue is his cap number relative to his recent production. There’s no doubt that, when healthy, Barkley has the ability to be among the very best running backs in the league.

The issue is, we just haven’t seen his game-breaking traits in recent seasons. Barkley missed three games in 2021 as he recovered from his ACL tear in 2020. But even when healthy, Barkley had just four plays in which he gained over 20 yards in 2021, compared to 14 20-plus yard plays in 2019.

But how much of this falls on Barkley, and how much falls on poor offensive line play? That may be the question the Giants are going back and forth on right now. But if the rankings from Pro Football Focus are any indication, the Giants had one of the worst blocking units from 2021, ranking third-worst in the NFL.

This leaves the Giants in a precarious place heading into the offseason. They have a clear need to improve at nearly every offensive position, including running back. But when Barkley is healthy, as he was as a rookie, he showed he could be considered one of the best halfbacks in football. Should they really be so quick to move on from talent, when they currently lack playmakers out of the backfield?

Related: New York Giants unlikely to trade Saquon Barkley before the draft

What should the New York Giants do with Saquon Barkley?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In short, they should keep their No. 2 overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, but it has nothing to do with his draft position, or his salary. It has everything to do with what Barkley has shown he’s capable of.

Look, Barkley is still just 25 years old and it’s not like the Giants have another back, waiting to replace his production in 2022. Sure, it’s easy to make the argument that running backs are a dime a dozen and that you can even find respectable production from undrafted free agents (see Austin Ekeler, James Robinson) if the situation is just right, but that’s obviously no guarantee.

Is Tom Brady the greatest of all time or a cheater?

They already have Barkley on their roster, and the fans love him. Is getting a mid-round pick for a young-ish player really a good return? Is the savings of $7.2 million worth jettisoning who could be one of your best players? Probably not.

In an ideal world, Barkley is ready to return to dominance, now that he will be roughly two years removed from his ACL surgery by the end of October. The Giants should roll the dice on that possibility, instead of landing just another lottery ticket who may not pan out.

Related: 5 ideal offseason Saquon Barkley trade landing spots