Giants’ Saquon Barkley is headed into the murky waters of free agency

nfl: philadelphia eagles at new york giants, saquon barkley
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The Giants haven’t shown much interest in signing star running back Saquon Barkley to a long-term extension. Many recall General Manager Joe Schoen offering Saquon $13 million per season in base salary before the 2022 season came to an end, but the guarantees weren’t reported, which is the most critical part of a deal for a running back.

Given the position is losing its value due to injury concerns, the Giants are heavily considering moving on from Barkley after years of enjoying his services in the backfield.

Unfortunately, the Giants weren’t able to win many football games despite his presence and reliance on his skill set to help support one of the worst offenses in football. The Giants have failed miserably to build a competent offense around Barkley, and they will likely have to let him walk because of their other needs.

Evaluating Barkley’s Market Value

It is unlikely that Schoen franchise tags Barkley unless they plan to trade him immediately after, but there may not be many suitors in that scenario. The best teams in football all have their running back position figured out for the most part, with the exception of one or two. They could simply let him test the market and have the option of matching any contract he would get elsewhere, but his market value may not exceed $11 million, according to PFF.

Different market value projections have him anywhere between $7.9 and $11 million, and based on the free agency situation last year, teams simply aren’t dishing out top dollar for running backs anymore.

Miles Sanders ended up with the most money at $6 million per season and he was eventually benched in favor of Chuba Hubbard. Teams got significantly more value out of players like Devin Singletary and Zack Moss on much more affordable deals, so the Giants may be considering an alternative like that rather than giving a multi-year deal to their once-prize possession as the second-overall pick back in 2018.

The Giants’ Future Without Barkley

The Giants’ future success will rely on their passing game and the quarterback position, not on Barkley to elevate the team. The numbers are tangible, though, as the Giants score significantly fewer points when Barkley is off the field.

However, the team can take that money and invest it in the offensive line, which should boost their pass protection and ability to throw the football more efficiently. There are ways to allocate any money they would’ve spent on Barkley, but the team will be losing one of their leaders in the locker room and a voice that has kept the players together through adversity over the years.

Ignoring Barkley’s value as a leader and the intangible traits he brings is a choice, and so is looking just to his positional value as a reason to let him go. The Giants will be a worse team without him, but they can find a cheaper replacement and invest the rest in a unit that desperately needs support.

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