September 24, 2021

Should the New York Giants Trade Saquon Barkley?

When running back Saquon Barkley was drafted second overall by the Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Penn State product was considered a can't-miss player. 

After three seasons, Barkley has clearly failed to live up to the massive hype. He's struggled to stay healthy and produce big plays on a consistent basis and he certainly can't fix the Giants' plethora of issues.

That, of course, begs the question, should the Giants trade their once prized possession? 

A Rollercoaster Career

Following Barkley's strong rookie season, some people started writing the running back's Hall of Fame speech. In his first season, Barkley ran for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 91 receptions for 721 yards and another four touchdowns. The production crashed down in 2019 due to an injury, but in 13 games, Barkley once again eclipsed the thousand-yard mark on the ground with 1,003 rushing yards.

Barkley broke many rookie records including, most 100+ yard games from scrimmage (12), most 50+ yard touchdowns (5), most receptions by a running back (91), and most catches in a game (14). He also already holds numerous Giants' rookie records. It was pretty clear that Barkley was well on his way to being a megastar in this league until injuries derailed his promising start. 

The 2020 season was an absolute disaster for Barkley. In the Giants' first game of the season, Barkley finished with six rushing yards on 15 carries. He was able to salvage his day with 60 receiving yards, but it was a brutal start to the campaign for Barkley behind the Giants' sieve of an offensive line.

Unfortunately for the physical specimen, he tore his ACL the next week against the Bears as he was starting to get his feet under him. 

Depending on how players recover, it can take up to two years for players to feel like themselves again. That's bad timing for Barkley, who wants to reclaim his title as one of the league's best running backs, but he doesn't completely look like he's back. 

Are There Signs of Improvement? 

The G-Men have taken the safe approach with Barkley so far. 

With their two opening games coming within five days of each other against two potentially elite defenses, the Giants slowly ramped up Barkley's touches. Although he's rushed for just 83 yards in the two games at 3.6 yards per clip, there are signs of life in New York's starting runner. 

Against the Football Team on a short week, Barkley was able to showcase his talents with a 41-yard burst early in the game that showed he might be ready to regain his form. 

But even if Barkley is able to rediscover his special athletic ability — while regaining some trade value — is it time for the Giants to see what they can get for him instead of paying him a big-money contract? 

Is It Time To Move On?

The Giants clearly can't trade Barkley right now as his value is at a near all-time low, but they could open to the idea in the offseason. 

If Barkley bounces back as a 1,000-yard rusher who helps in the passing game, the Giants still aren't ready to compete. If they can avoid paying Barkley more than $16 million per year while adding valuable draft picks, it seems like a no-brainer. 

Just look at how replaceable running backs are in the league and how frequently they get injured, as Barkley has shown. The Pro Bowl back still has plenty of life in his football legs, but it makes more sense for New York to fill out their roster in other places and find a cheaper running back to improve the roster. 

Plus, if the Cardinals were able to get DeAndre Hopkins for the corpse of David Johnson, who knows what a 24-year-old Barkley might get the Giants.

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