New York Giants: Saquon Barkley in John Mara’s future plans

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley
Sep 14, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) jumps over Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton (28) while running the ball during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

2020 wasn’t the best year for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants were expected to lean on Barkley last year due to the lack of a real number one receiver and the presence of a still developing quarterback in Daniel Jones, but their plans were quickly shaken up when Barkley tore his ACL. The injury put him out for the year, and his future with the team is unclear.

The Giants will have Barkley back next season, of course – but it’s unclear what the plan with his contract situation is. The Giants have a fifth year option to keep Barkley after the 2021 season, and have the option of keeping him with the franchise tag beyond that, but the team hasn’t said too much yet about their plans in that area. Until now, that is.

When speaking to the media on Wednesday, co-owner John Mara confirmed that Barkley is part of the franchise’s plans.

“I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time,” Mara said, in a statement that should shut down Barkley trade talks before they happen this offseason.

“He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch,” Mara continued, speaking on Barkley’s injury this season. “Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now.”

Barkley only played in two games this season and finished with 34 yards. He was only able to rack up 19 rushing attempts in the process. The Giants brought in Devonta Freeman following his injury and gave more playing time to Wayne Gallman, but much of their hopes in 2021 certainly rest on Barkley having a good comeback season.

Playing running back by committee was nearly good enough to get the Giants into the playoffs in 2020 – but next year, the Giants can’t expect as much luck to fall their way to keep them in the race.

Barkley is the team’s best offensive player, and the Giants will need him to play like that after his recovery this year.