Rumors that the New York Giants are considering trading running back Saquon Barkley continue to percolate, with some insiders speculating that a deal for the Pro Bowler may be imminent.
Dan Graziano of ESPN reported earlier in the week that he was “getting the sense that Saquon Barkley won’t be on the Giants in 2022” — which would deal a major blow to the G-men’s running game.
Despite fielding a roster that posted just 4 wins last year, the Giants are among the teams with the worst salary cap situation in the NFL. Heading into the offseason, the team found themselves more than $3 million dollars over the cap limit, with 22 players hitting unrestricted free agency, and with many roster positions still depleted.
That financial strain has forced the team from MetLife Stadium to seriously look towards their options at shedding monetary commitments, including giving up a once-in-a-generation talent like Barkley.
The Penn State University product has been among the best running backs in the league since the Giants drafted him second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Barkley had somewhat of a down year last season, recording just 4 touchdowns, though he still boasts a solid 4.5 yards-per-attempt throughout his 4 professional seasons.
He has suffered from notable injuries in his career, including tearing his ACL in the second week of the 2020 season, which ended his on-field activities that year. He bounced back the following season, playing in 13 games, and serving as an all-purpose back for the G-men.
Still, the 25-year-old is due to make $7.2 million in the upcoming season, which is a heavy burden to hold for the cap-strapped team from New York.
Earlier this month, general manager Joe Schoen admitted that the team was considering dealing Barkley.
“We’re still working through that, but I’m open to everything,” Schoen said on March 1. “Whether it’s trading player for player, I’ll listen to anybody. If it’s trading a couple players — I’m not going to say the entire roster — we’re open for business… But if anyone is going to call and they’re interested in any of our players. I’m certainly going to listen.”
NFL insider Ralph Vacchiano reported for SNY that the trade market for Barkley has been less-than-enthusiastic, and the team could wait until mid-season to deal the 232-pound runner — speculating that a playoff contender may lose their back to injury, and be more desperate than they are now. Vacchiano also said the Giants would be looking for nothing less than a 4th round draft pick in any trade involving Barkley.
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Losing their star running back would deal a massive blow, not just to fans who adore Barkley, but also to quarterback Daniel Jones.
The 24-year-old passer is heading into his 4th year in the league, and is due for a contract extension after the season. With the Giants boasting a new coach in Brian Daboll, and a new general manager in Joe Schoen, the first-year regime will likely use this season to evaluate Jones, and determine whether he is the long-term answer under center for the franchise.
The front office recently improved their offensive line in free agency, which will undoubtedly help Jones this season — but losing Barkley would rob the offense of a potent weapon, and leave Gary Brightwell as the first-string back.