New York Giants: Saquon Barkley will benefit most from revamped offense

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants revamped their offense this offseason. The Giants spent big in free agency, signing alpha dog wide receiver Kenny Golladay to a humungous contract. Golladay is the big-body, contested catch, number one receiver that the Giants desperately needed. The Giants made another underrated signing on offense with the addition of tight end Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph brings consistency and dependability to the tight end position, two traits the Giants previously lacked at that spot.

The Giants then doubled down in the 2021 NFL Draft, selecting dynamic wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round. Toney gives the Giants a dangerous after-the-catch weapon that they lacked. And, of course, the Giants have some capable returning talent on the roster already. Sterling Shepard is still a dependable intermediate route-running receiver. Evan Engram is still a big-play threat at tight end. And Darius Slayton is a solid deep threat Z-receiver. The Giants also added receiving depth with John Ross III, Dante Pettis, and Devontae Booker.

All of these additions on offense are huge for Giants’ third-year quarterback Daniel Jones in his “prove-it” year. But another player who has not been discussed much this offseason will also benefit from this influx of offensive talent: Superstar running back Saquon Barkley.

The return of Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley entered the NFL as an instant star in his 2018 rookie campaign. Barkley won offensive rookie of the year that season as he led the league in total yards from scrimmage with 2,028. Saquon was explosive in 2018 and he followed it up with another impressive season in 2019.

Barkley missed five games with injuries in 2019, but when he was on the field, he was still the dominating presence out of the backfield that the Giants were accustomed to. He totaled 1,003 rushing yards in only 13 starts. Saquon was still special, however, it became evidently clear in 2019 (and even further in 2020) that Saquon Barkley was being held back.

Saquon was frustrating held back by injuries over the last two years. He missed five games in 2019, bounced back down the stretch, then tore his ACL during Week 2 of the 2020 season, missing fourteen games. But injuries were never the only thing holding Saquon Barkley back from reaching his potential. Barkley also struggled due to the lack of talent around him. The Giants simply asked Saquon to do too much in his first two seasons. But now, with a revamped offense, Saquon Barkley is primed for a huge 2021 comeback season.

How Saquon Barkley will benefit from the revamped offense

The last time Saquon Barkley hit the field, he was the only superstar that the Giants had on offense. The only player that defenses had to gameplan around was Saquon Barkley, and they did that in the first two weeks of the 2020 season. Barkley totaled just 34 yards on 19 rushing attempts last season. In Week 1 he was held to a putrid 6 yards on 15 attempts.

This was not the first time this has happened to Saquon. In Week 10 of the 2019 season, Barkley rushed for 1 yard on 13 attempts against the New York Jets. Saquon has struggled with injuries in his career but he has also been held back by a severe lack of talent around him.

In 2021, that will change. Defenses now have new names and talents to respect on the Giants’ offense. Defenses need to account for Kenny Golladay as a vertical threat. Defenses need to gameplan around Kadarius Toney’s ability to break a tackle and take the ball to the house from anywhere on the field. They do not just have to focus on Saquon Barkley and what he does out of the backfield.

This should result in fewer stacked boxes against the Giants’ offense. Defenses did not respect the Giants’ receiving corps in 2020. Wayne Gallman faced 8+ defenders in the box on 40.14% of his rushing attempts (second-highest in the NFL). With more receiving threats for defenses to account for on the Giants’ offense, Saquon Barkley should see fewer stacked boxes and greater rushing opportunities.

New York Giants: Medical staff will handle Saquon Barkley return date

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The return of Saquon Barkley is one of the most anticipated dates for the New York Giants this year. The team was forced to play most of last season without their top offensive weapon, and it showed in their performance. The running game struggled despite Wayne Gallman having his best season, and it looks like Barkley returning is a prerequisite for the Giants offense getting up to full speed.

However, there’s no definite timetable for that yet. It looks like Barkley is most likely to come back in week one, but the team is being careful with his recovery and head coach Joe Judge can’t confirm anything.

Judge spoke with Carton & Roberts on WFAN and, while he was impressed with Barkley’s progress, also said that things would be left in the hands of the medical staff.

No return date yet for Saquon Barkley

“I’m not a doctor. I’ll trust our training staff and the medical professionals to tell us when he’s ready to go. I just know he comes to work and does everything he’s asked to do. He’s getting better day by day,” Judge said. “Now, when they say he’s ready to go? That’s when we’ll put him on the field. But I want to make sure he’s ready to go, 100 percent, before we throw him out there.”

He also said that he can’t give a hard timetable because the staff itself doesn’t have one yet.

A lot is resting on Barkley coming back fully healthy, especially as last season’s top rusher Wayne Gallman is now in San Francisco after the Giants didn’t give him a second contract.

Devontae Booker was signed to fill Gallman’s role, but new running backs outside of Barkley have always been a shot in the dark for the Giants in the past few years. There’s no guarantee Booker is a backup of the same quality.

Barkley had a great rookie season but has dealt with injuries in two out of three years overall. This has largely kept him from reaching his full potential, and with a mega-deal potentially looming on the horizon after his rookie contract, getting it in gear this season and putting on a good performance will be important for Barkley’s career.

Despite there not being a recovery timetable, it doesn’t look like there’s much reason to worry. His recovery has been going well according to all reports, and not much has come out to indicate Barkley won’t be ready for week 1.

New York Giants do the expected and pick up Saquon Barkley’s fifth year

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

New York Giants fans will have one more piece of good news before the NFL Draft. That comes in the form of news about the team’s running back, Saquon Barkley. No one really thought the Giants were going to do differently, but they finally made things official and picked up the fifth year on his rookie contract.

The team announced this on Wednesday, in a surprise move that might come earlier than some expected. But for most, there was never a question that the Giants were going to make this move, even if earlier in the offseason the organization itself spoke of it as something that still had to be considered and wasn’t a guarantee.

Barkley is of course in the running to receive a super-deal when his rookie contract is done, either with the Giants or another franchise depending on the strategy they take in the long run. However, injuries may throw a wrench into that for him as he’s already had a couple seasons in his young career disrupted heavily by them.

In 2021, Barkley’s main goal will be showing everyone that he can still play the same as he did in his rookie season, when he was healthy and set the league on fire.

For now, though, we know that the future contract isn’t too immediate of a worry – while it is an important situation on the horizon for the Giants, they’ll still have Barkley around for a bit more before it’s on the forefront. Picking up his fifth year option only further confirms that.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley says we haven’t seen anything yet

New York Giants, Darius Slayton, Saquon Barkley

2021 is going to be a make or break season for Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants. Barkley obviously missed the vast majority of last season with an ACL tear, and the Giants struggled in the running game most of the year without him. Barkley is coming back this season, and the main goal will be to stay on the field the whole year and play the most snaps since his rookie season.

But in the time between now and then, where Barkley has suffered from injuries in both seasons in between, some might have forgotten just how good of an addition Barkley was to the offense.

That might be what motivated Barkley to retweet some of his old highlights, with a new message. According to him, we haven’t seen nothing yet from him.

Based on reports so far this offseason, Barkley’s recovery has been going well and we should see him on the field in time for the season opener if there’s no setbacks. This will be a big season for him not just because the Giants have improved the offense in other areas this offseason, but because it’s time for Barkley to start earning the mega-contract that he’ll be in the market for when his current deal is up.

Signing Barkley to a mega-deal would have been an obvious decision if his play had been consistent with his rookie season for his entire career, but his injuries have thrown more doubt into the mix because it’s been a couple years since we’ve seen him at his peak.

All of that should just serve as motivation during a season where Barkley has a lot on the line from both a team and personal point of view. And so far, it looks like that motivation is being taken to heart.

New York Giants: An NFC East best offense in 2021?

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants had one of the worst offenses in the league in 2020 – but that might have changed around quickly based on how things have gone so far during the offseason. The Giants were already expected to see a boost to their offense going into the next season with a healthy Saquon Barkley, but that boost is greatly expanded by adding a receiver that has the potential to finish as one of the top ten in the league: Kenny Golladay.

The Golladay deal gives the Giants the number one receiver they haven’t had since they moved on from Odell Beckham Jr. Sterling Shepard never quite rose to that role, and Darius Slayton hasn’t been consistent enough to seize it either. Now, the Giants have what they’re looking for.

But the Giants still have other, less consistent but still dangerous talents in their back pocket. With a number one threat for defenses to focus on, these talents might be able to shine more. They include Evan Engram, whose receiving potential the Giants have continued to bet on each season as calls to trade the tight end go unheard. And Darius Slayton, who was still an 8 touchdown receiver in 2019 despite his lesser performance in 2020.

The Giants added another depth player to the receiving game with tight end Kyle Rudolph, who himself is only one year removed from a 6 touchdown season in 2019. If Saquon Barkley can stay healthy this entire season, the Giants will also have one of the most dynamic weapons in the running game this year.

It’s a bit early to start crowning the best offense in the division, and the last Giants teams to be crowned early have underperformed big time. But if there’s one season when the Giants will avoid that fate, it seems like this one.

After all, with the team finally getting a number one receiver, and other talents returning and having less pressure on them to take on the entire load for the offense, we might just see more than one player blossom from the move the Giants have made.

New York Giants: Picking up Saquon Barkley’s fifth year option is no guarantee

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

It seems like a sure thing that the New York Giants will pick up the fifth year option for Saquon Barkley. After all, Barkley is their best offensive weapon when he’s healthy and it looks like the Giants have based their rebuilding window partly on the contracts of him and Daniel Jones.

And when Barkley was drafted, one of the big concerns with fans wasn’t his skills but rather whether or not the Giants could win during his contract window.

That narrative has been disrupted by injury in Barkley’s third year in the league. Barkley only played in a couple games last season and hasn’t reached the expected heights projected from his first year. And according to Dave Gettleman who spoke on Tuesday, that could impact the team’s decision on his eventual fifth year option.

“Well, I think that’s part of the discussion and obviously we’re going to have to make a decision in the spring on whether we pick up his fifth-year option or not. You know, again, it comes back to that medical question. It’s unknown and what you have to do is get your trainer and your doctors involved and make your best decision,” Gettleman spoke.

This is a change from what moves were projected for the Giants by most – if you asked anyone last offseason if they would renew Barkley’s fifth year option, almost everyone would say yes.

But just like the career of Odell Beckham Jr., Barkley’s career has been disrupted by injuries and the Giants haven’t been able to get the most out of him. It makes the question of his contract more murky.

Hopefully, Barkley will be able to make a full recovery this season and that will be in the past. But, for a hard runner like him, that’s no guarantee.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley working out with Odell Beckham Jr. in Arizona

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

One of the main storylines for the New York Giants this season is the recovery of Saquon Barkley. He’s arguably the most talented player on the team, and would be their undisputed top weapon if it wasn’t for his history of injuries over the past couple of seasons. The biggest blow to his career came during the 2020 season when he was ruled out for the year after a couple weeks due to an ACL tear.

This season will be a make or break one for Barkley as the Giants offense depends partly on him making a successful return. After all, the Giants had one of the worst scoring offenses in the league after his injury and their lack of a threatening rushing game was a big part of that.

Another player that found himself injured last season was former Giant Odell Beckham Jr., and it looks like the two have linked up for their recovery.

Barkley working with Odell Beckham this offseason

Barkley and Beckham have trained together in Los Angeles before but this time, the destination is Arizona. This comes after Beckham had his season similarly cut short when he tore his own ACL in only week seven, continuing a history of his promising career being cut short by not being able to stay on the field.

It’s for this reason that most would say the Giants won the trade that sent Beckham away – even if the Giants still don’t have a real number one weapon in the receiving game, even the most skilled receiver won’t help much if they can’t stay on the field.

One can hope that both players will make their way back to the starting lineup this season and that history won’t repeat itself. Both of them, after all, are a distinct part of the Giants’ recent past. And Barkley is still a huge part of their future. That’s clear this season more than ever, where the Giants will need a full recovery from Barkley to achieve their maximum potential.

New York Giants: Will Saquon Barkley’s backups return this season?

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants had a tough time in 2020 at the running back spot. Saquon Barkley went down quickly with an injury, and new signing Devonta Freeman would also end up spending time out injured and ultimately never did much with the team. It took the Giants some time to figure out the running game last year, but they ultimately finished in a better place than they started through the first few weeks.

This season, though, we might not see the same running backs that took most of the snaps this year for the Giants. Wayne Gallman is an unrestricted free agent. So is Alfred Morris, who had the second most rushing yards out of Giants running backs.

Wayne Gallman

2020 was the best year of Wayne Gallman’s career. Going into the season, there were some questions about whether the Giants even needed him. After all, his performance hadn’t been anything exceptional in past seasons and Barkley was starting ahead of him. But then, Barkley went down and everything changed.

With the Giants needing a running back and not finding their man in either Devonta Freeman or Dion Lewis, Gallman stepped up as the option already on the roster. He had 682 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games played – 10 of them being starts. That’s a career high, and it’s thanks to Gallman that Daniel Jones didn’t finish as the team’s lead rusher.

The Giants might be interested in bringing Gallman back, but he’s an unrestricted free agent and looks like one of the most likely Giants to leave. His rookie deal is over and coming off the strongest year of his career, the Giants will have to pay him more to keep him around.

It’s unlikely the Giants have to lean on their backup running backs as heavily again this season, when Barkley returns – it’s hard to see them paying up instead of trusting that Barkley won’t be injured and bringing in a cheaper replacement.

Alfred Morris

Alfred Morris was the second leading Giants running back last season. While he didn’t put up the same kind of numbers Gallman did, he added to the team’s efforts with 238 rushing yards in 9 appearances. He’s also an unrestricted free agent this season.

However, unlike Gallman, it looks like there’s a stronger chance we could see Morris in blue again this season.

Morris played out the season on a one year deal and the Giants had to pay him less than they paid Gallman, with a cap hit of only $352k. He’s an older player that will be 33 this season, but that may not be so much of a problem for the Giants assuming Barkley isn’t injured again.

It’s clear that the Giants are better when they can run the ball often and not put all the pressure on Daniel Jones. And we can expect Barkley to take a lot of those snaps. The Giants need backup running backs to relieve the load, not take it over entirely.

Therefore, with Gallman likely to leave and the Giants having no clear number one backup, it looks like a likely outcome to see them bring back Alfred Morris on another small deal while also potentially bringing in a back through a later draft round or free agency to add to the competition.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley shares early Joe Judge experience

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Joe Judge has gotten a chance to work with New York Giants back Saquon Barkley for one season, and has made a good impression so far. Of course, the bulk of that season was spent with Barkley sitting out because of an ACL tear. The injury came quickly into the year and forced the Giants to change their strategy on offense all around. It was also a big blow to the overall hopes of the Giants for winning in Judge’s first season.

But despite spending most of the year recovering, Barkley was able to get a good impression of his new head coach. He said as much when speaking to the AP Pro Football Podcast, where he spoke about his injury and recovery recently.

Barkley tells an early story about Joe Judge

The conversation led to the subject of Joe Judge and Barkley’s initial impressions.

“When he came in and gave his speech, he let everyone know he was about business. When I first met him, I couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. It was like I was talking to a sergeant. And through time, when you got to see him, he got to show his personality, even through Zoom,” Barkley said.

“When I got hurt, I was trying to be this tough guy and stay strong in the locker room. And then I kind of started breaking down in front of him. He looked me in the eye and told me, ‘It’s going to be one hell of a story.’ And that’s the type of guy he is. He’s got your back and he’s a guy that’s for his players, and he’s a guy who is going to push you and get the best out of you no matter what.”

The difference between the Giants under Judge and the previous administration has been night and day. That seems clear with both player reactions and fan sentiment. There’s more reason to be optimistic going into next season than there was after Pat Shurmur’s first year as head coach. And for many of the young players on the Giants, last season was the closest they came to being on a winning team.

We haven’t gotten to see what Barkley can do under a new head coach and offensive coordinator yet – but that’s the hope for 2021. So far, it looks like Barkley will definitely be back on the field in week 1 barring a surprise setback.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley provides injury update

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

When New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley went down with a torn ACL in week two against the Chicago Bears this past season, the offense was immediately castrated. He was considered the most lethal threat, with his ability to break long runs and put points on the board at any moment. Looking back at his rookie season in 2018, Barkley played in all 16 games, recording 2028 yards from scrimmage. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground and 4 through the air.

There is no question that Barkley has the ability to be one of the best players in the NFL, but returning from a torn ACL is easier said than done. Plenty of players have done it in the past and returned to have fantastic careers, notably Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook. However, it is different for every player, and there’s no guarantee Saquon will ever be the same on the football field.

Nonetheless, modern medicine gives him a very good chance to make a full recovery and regain his form, but it will take him time to regain his strength and learn how to juke, cut, and exercise his strengths to perfection.

Barkley recently updated the media on his rehabilitation, and all seems to be going well at this point.

“I’m doing really well in rehab,” Barkley said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. “Very lucky to have a great team around me, great trainers, great doctors. Everyone has been very beneficial to me and very helpful to me. So whenever the opportunity I’m able to get back on the football field with my team, I’m definitely going to cherish that moment, and I just honestly can’t wait for that day to happen soon.”

An injury of his nature usually takes an entire year to return from, so the expectation is that he will be prepared to start the 2021 season. Of course, the Giants will likely take it easy for the first few weeks as he regains his legs, but overcoming the mental aspect of tearing an ACL can oftentimes be the most challenging hurdle.

“You have to start all over, and you have to teach yourself how to walk, jog, run, sprint, cut, and all that stuff again,” Barkley said. “But the mental part, especially when I hurt myself, at the moment I felt I was letting all my teammates down. To watch those guys on Sundays was very emotional. But everything happens for a reason. I have to continue to work. You control the things I can control and let the rest take over.”

The New York Giants need to add more talent on offense:

The reality is, Barkley has only played in 15 games over the past two years, which might justify the narrative that drafting running backs in the first round is never a good idea. They are the most injured position, and Barkley is proving the naysayers right at this point. That doesn’t make him any less a part of this offense, as they desperately need him to return if they want to have an elite running game in 2021.

The Giants will likely allocate resources toward bolstering the offense this off-season, which should take some pressure off of Barkley moving forward.