After three seasons of relative disappointment and injury issues, Saquon Barkley reminded the New York Giants why they took him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Barkley gained a career-high 1,312 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns and added 57 receptions in 2022. Those numbers weren’t as great as his rookie year, but they were far better than his more recent seasons. It earned him a Pro Bowl berth, and it helped get the Giants to the NFL Playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Now Barkley is a free agent, as is his QB Daniel Jones. The Giants have some huge decisions to make on the offensive side of the ball this off-season.
Bookies.com oddsmaker Adam Thompson has used his resources of NFL contacts developed over 20 years covering the league to create his hypothetical NFL futures odds on Barkley’s 2023 team.
Saquon Barkley 2023 Week 1 Team
|New York Giants||-250||71.4%|
|New England Patriots||+1200||7.7%|
These odds are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect odds that may be available on betting apps.
The Giants have a franchise tag to use, and it’s likely to go toward Barkley or Jones. The question is, will they use it to pay $10.1 million for an ultra-talented yet oft-injured running back?
Barkley admitted he would be upset if the Giants used the tag on him. He is reportedly looking for close to $14 million annually and, during the bye week, rejected a multi-year extension for roughly $12 million annually. He says he wants to be a Giant for life, but there apparently will be no loyalty discount.
Still, the NFL betting odds suggest that Barkley will be tagged whether he likes it or not (the tag price for Jones is $32 million, which makes tagging Barkley the more cap-friendly route). That adds additional time to get a longer-term deal done.
If it doesn’t get done, there will be teams who could offer Barkley want he wants or even more.
The Chicago Bears will likely lose feature back David Montgomery to free agency. They still have Khalil Herbert, but they also have, by far, the most salary cap space to make a splash this offseason. Adding Barkley would only help QB Justin Fields and the perennially-struggling Chicago offense.
There are also contenders with a need for the position, but most of them aren’t in the best spot financially. Miami Dolphins RBs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are now free agents. The 25th-ranked rush attack in South Florida didn’t help take pressure off QB Tua Tagovailoa. Adding Saquon would definitely help.
Neither of those possible suitors is in a good spot cap-wise to spend $10 million-plus on a running back. Three teams that could, and might include the New England Patriots, who could lose Damien Harris to free agency and rank No. 4 in available cap space for 2023; the Houston Texans, who are No. 6 in cash and need upgrades just about everywhere; and the Arizona Cardinals, 12th in cap space and ranked 22nd in rushing with James Conner.
Giants rivals lead The Field grouping. The New York Jets would love to steal Saquon from their cross-stadium counterparts, and there’s a need at the position with Breece Hall recovering from a torn ACL.
The same could go for the Giants’ other major rival right now, the Philadelphia Eagles, as Miles Sanders is an upcoming free agent. If the Jets and Eagles push for Barkley, the Giants may be quicker with those extension talks.
The Las Vegas Raiders are No. 9 in cash, and Josh Jacobs is the most-attractive free agent on the market (Vegas plans to do its best to bring him back).
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