(Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)
Giants running back Saquon Barkley is due for an extension this offseason since he could be a free agent after next season. He is about to complete his rookie contract, so it makes sense for the Giants to agree on a deal quickly as possible.
Barkley anticipated a big season that could make him one of the highest paid running backs in the league. Unfortunately, he injured his ACL in a game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. He is out for the season.
Timing is everything. Instead of him having the bargaining advantage, it’s the Giants.
The Giants can pay him based on what they think he’s worth rather than what he and his agent think he’s worth. They don’t have to break the bank now considering no one knows if he will be the same player after the ACL. Barkley has no choice but to accept what the Giants pay him.
No one is saying the Giants will pay their running back below market value. They will sweeten the offer that makes sense for both parties.
But make no mistake. The Giants are happy that they don’t have to overpay him or give him a long-term deal that could last six or seven years. It’s what he would have sought.
It stinks for Barkley. He is a wonderful person, and he deserves better. But let’s not confuse him with the late Gale Sayers, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders just yet. He’s good, but he’s not great. He is likely in the level of new Giants running back Devonta Freeman. That’s not meant to be an insult.
Paying running backs big money tends to be a risk. Running backs age quickly, and the NFL features more of a passing game than a running game. The only time teams use a running game is if they don’t have a dynamic quarterback.
Therein lies the problem for the Giants. No one knows if Daniel Jones can be a great quarterback. He showed he can’t be an NFL quarterback so far. He continues to turn the ball over, and he still fumbles. Did anyone seriously think he would lead the Giants to a game-winning touchdown drive against the Chicago Bears? Sure Giants fans hoped for the best, but they also know reality. He hasn’t shown he could get it done so far. Remember Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree hit the Giants quarterback that had him throw an interception to Cam Heyward rather than throw the ball away. His decision wasted the Giants 19-yard drive that cost the team a touchdown and the game.
Barkley remains the Giants’ best player by default. This is why the Giants likely would have overpaid him this offseason.
Barkley could use this to his advantage by proving his worth next season and bet on himself to get what he wants after next season when he becomes a free agent. The problem with that comes twofold: 1) Is he going to turn away a lucrative offer by the Giants despite not knowing if he will be the same? 2) What’s the guarantee other teams will overpay him?
The Giants would be wise to let him go. They should have never drafted him to begin with considering their offensive line has been in flux for a long time, and they needed a quarterback.
Basically, the Giants are stuck with Barkley. They need him as much as he needs them.
The Giants now have the advantage whether Barkley likes it or not, so they have that going for them. Now, they have to hope he is healthy and better. Hoping is not a plan. Not when a franchise has been 12-38 since their last playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. This franchise needs hope, not hoping for the best.
Barkley has so much work to do for him to be the player he could be. It won’t be easy.
Despite all that, he will get paid. No one should feel sorry for him, especially when many people in America are laid off and waiting for unemployment checks every week. He may be set for life for all we know.
For the Giants, this could be a loss in so many ways. They hoped he and Jones could be the face of the team that get back to their winning ways sooner rather than later.
Now, they have no choice but to hope for the best.
At least, the Giants won’t overpay him.
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