The unfortunate news that New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley suffered a torn ACL during the team’s Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears headlines some bad injuries around the entire NFL.
For the Giants, this is most unfortunate in that new head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett wanted to see how a Barkley and Daniel Jones backfield would look for an entire season.
Entering his third season in the NFL, Barkley has shown flashes of being an all-time great running back. Selected No. 2 overall back in 2018, the Penn State product recorded 2,028 total yards and 15 touchdowns at a clip of 5.8 yards per touch en route to earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
With that said, New York received justifiable push back for selecting a running back with the second overall pick when quarterbacks such as Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson were all available.
We exist in a pass-first era of NFL football. It’s all about the quarterback position. No matter the impact Barkley has had for the Giants, it’s nowhere near the level of a potential franchise quarterback.
That brings me to the overriding point of this article. Is it possible that the Giants simply decide to take the loss and trade Barkley once the 2020 season comes to a conclusion? It seems more than reasonable.
Trading Saquon Barkley would save the Giants a ton of cash
- In an NFL that is on edge due to the revenue downfall created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of paying a running back top-shelf money can’t be seen as too appealing.
- Barkley is set to count north of $10 million against the cap in 2021. In terms of per annual average, this would rank ninth among running backs in the NFL. Not bad given Barkley’s production.
- With that said, Barkley’s salary for the 2022 season would increase big time if the Giants were unable to sign him to an extension and had to exercise the fifth-year option on the back’s contract. Looking at the math, that would come in at around $14 million — the fourth-highest figure in the NFL among running backs.
Running back contracts should be taken into account
- While the running back market has been slower than others to increase in recent years, we’ve seen a pretty big uptick in salaries at this position.
- Christian McCaffrey: The Panthers’ star signed a four-year, $64.06 million deal during the spring. That represents the high-water mark for a running back in NFL history.
- Alvin Kamara: Immediately ahead of the start of the 2020 season, Kamara inked a five-year, $75 million extension with the Saints following some trade rumors circulating.
- Ezekiel Elliott: One of the highest-drafted backs in recent history, Elliott earned a record-breaking $90 million in total value on a six-year extension with Dallas back in September of 2019.
That’s a major backdrop to all of this. Despite suffering a torn ACL, Barkley will likely want a record-breaking extension during the 2021 offseason. Given his injury issues and how the market has reset itself, would the Giants want to pay that?
Saquon Barkley trade would net the Giants a solid return
- New York won’t be able to recoup the No. 2 overall pick it exhausted in drafting Barkley in the first place. With that said, there wouldn’t be a limited numer of teams interested in the running back’s services.
- We’re talking about a player who put up a resounding 3,470-plus yards and 23 touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. That includes 143 receptions and a 73%-plus catch rate.
- Given Barkley’s dual-threat ability, he would be attractive to teams who run offenses based on the modern philosophy that backs must play a role in the passing game.
- It’s in this that it would not be a surprise if a contending team offered up a player, first-round pick and additional draft capital for Barkley.
Why a Saquon Barkley trade would make sense for the Giants
- By virtue of selecting Daniel Jones No. 6 overall back in 2019, the Giants are not relying on Barkley to be their franchise player. It’s going to be all about the maturation process of Mr. Jones under center.
- It’s in this that New York needs more weapons for Jones on offense. That includes a legit No. 1 receiver and more pass protection up front. Downgrading a bit at running back while adding core pieces at these positions makes the most sense.
- It’s also important to note that new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is known more for molding young quarterbacks. That’s obviously one of the primary reasons New York hired him in the first place.
Potential teams interested in Saquon Barkley trade
- Miami Dolphins: The idea of teaming Tua Tagovailoa up with Barkley would be too hard for the Dolphins to pass up on. Miami also boasts the draft assets to make something work on this front.
- Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson and Saquon Barkley in the same backfield. That’s football porn right there. The good news in a hypothetical trade is that Baltimore has a talented young running back in J.K. Dobbins to offer up to New York.
- Green Bay Packers: Similar to Barkley in Jersey, the Packers are going to have to ante up large sums of cash for stud running back Aaron Jones. Having just drafted Jordan Love to be Aaron Rodgers’ heir-apparent, the idea of teaming him up with Barkley could actually make some sense.
Are the Giants going to trade Barkley? That’s highly unlikely. It would also be ways down the road.
With that said, forward-thinking mentalities are needed in today’s NFL. Barkley will want to get paid big time next March. He’s coming off a torn ACL and was hobbled by injury back in 2019.
New York is set to build around Daniel Jones at quarterback. It needs more weapons for the young quarterback. It’s in this that kicking the tires on a potential Barkley trade after the 2020 season actually makes a lot of sense.