Saquon Barkley doesn’t even have two seasons in the league yet, but the running back might be the best player on the roster for the New York Giants. During a season when just about everyone seemed to be in a slump, from the defense to the offensive line to Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., Barkley was one of the bright spots and one of the reasons to keep watching with interest every week even as the Giants’ record continued to grow worse during much of the season.
Going into his second year, it looks like Barkley will have to take the lead if the team is going to have more success than they did over the past two seasons.
Beckham is gone and the team’s receiving corps is for the most part unproven, with Sterling Shepard taking a larger role than before and Golden Tate arriving as a first year free agent signing. It remains to be seen how those receivers will mesh on the field, and going into the season, Barkley is the one consistent star that the team has on offense.
So it only makes sense that Barkley might end up with a larger role in 2019. According to head coach Pat Shurmur, however, that’s still not decided. When asked about Barkley getting a large role, Shurmur didn’t lean too much one way or the other in his answer.
“I don’t know about more. He had a big load a year ago. It makes sense for us to hand him the ball, and we can throw it to him as well. He will be involved, for sure…. I wouldn’t say manage [Barkley’s load], but we will try and spread the ball. We have other good players that should touch the ball as well,” Shurmur said.
Those other players include Shepard, Tate, tight end Evan Engram, and others such as Cody Latimer, but with the Giants likely changing their schemes up with the departure of Beckham, it’s not a certainty that those players will have a bounce back season from last year, where the offense wasn’t enough to win in many games.
As the second leading rusher in the NFL during his rookie season, it will be hard for Barkley to top his numbers, but that’s quite in the realm of possibility both because the Giants have made moves to improve his blocking and because a larger role isn’t out of the question, with Barkley being one of the top performers on the revamped offense. We’ll just have to see during the season whether or not this unique set of circumstances leads to Barkley finding himself with a larger role.