NFL
July 28, 2021

Saquon Barkley Set for Make or Break 2021 NFL Season

New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley's 2020 season ended abruptly after suffering a torn ACL just two games into the campaign. 

It put Barkley on the path toward recovery, eyeing a triumphant return to the field in 2021. The 24-year-old is primed for a strong campaign with plenty of motivation to prove he’s not only among the game’s best running backs but also one of the top overall talents. 

Barkley is entering Year 4 of his four-year, $31.1 million rookie deal with the fifth-year option worth $7.2 million for the 2022 season already exercised. 

Throughout the offseason, the Giants continue to take the precautionary approach with the former Penn State product as head coach Joe Judge voiced that the team will play him when he’s ready to go.

"We're thinking long-term with Saquon. Long-term in the season, long-term in his career," Judge said via ESPN. "And by taking care of him individually that is going to help our team long-term as well. We're going to make sure when we get him out there we can keep him out there.

"And we've got to make sure we do the best thing for him as we go along the way and make sure we make decisions based on his body and not some artificially anticipated timeline. When he's ready to go, that is when he's going to be out there."

It’s likely that Barkley misses the preseason while the team may let that bleed into the regular season. However, the former No. 2 overall selection has the opportunity to showcase he’s worth a bank-breaking extension.

If he hopes to secure a lucrative contract, he must first prove he can remain healthy as he’s suffered significant injuries in the last two seasons. In the 2019 campaign, he missed three games due to a high-ankle sprain. 

Barkley must prove that he's still a productive offensive weapon and, more importantly, a durable one. If he does, then the Giants front office will surely back the Brink's truck up for the runner. 

When healthy, Barkley has demonstrated to be one of the league’s best running backs. He possesses explosive speed and big-play ability. His first two seasons saw him eclipse more than 1,000 rushing yards while tallying north of 50 receptions and 400 receiving yards in each campaign. 

The Giants are hopeful that Daniel Jones can take the next step in his maturation as a quarterback. Aside from that, Barkley sits high on the list as a critical piece to the franchise’s future, and he holds an extremely important 2021 season ahead to prove that he deserves to remain in those long-term plans.

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration