The New York Giants Should Not Extend Saquon Barkley

Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Giants Should Not Extend Saquon Barkley


The New York Giants Should Not Extend Saquon Barkley


Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Giants are coming off an incredible season where they finished with a record of 9-7-1 and defeated the three seeded Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. First year head coach Brian Daboll has turned this team around just one year after the Giants finished 4-13 in 2021. This roster has produced a solid defense and an above-average offense, with Saquon Barkley as the focal point. Barkley set a new career high in rushing yards in 2022 with 1,312 yards. It would be an understatement to say the Giants wouldn’t have made it this far without Barkley. That being said, the Giants still should not extend Barkley, who is now heading to free agency.    


Running Back Career Length

The running back position is easily the most replaceable position in any of North America’s major sports. Rookie running backs continue to produce as top players year in and year out, with 2022’s notable standouts being Kenneth Walker III, Breece Hall, and Dameon Pierce. Barkley is even an example of this, as he had his best season back in 2018 as a rookie on an abysmal offense. When compared to other NFL positions, running backs have the shortest career span, with even the best of the best only performing for four-six years before disappearing from relevance. Meanwhile, a top wide receiver can dominate for six-10 years and a quarterback for eight-15 years. Additionally, running backs often don’t slowly fade in production. Rather, they fall steeply in production and it often cannot be predicted. 

Over the last three seasons of Todd Gurley’s career, his yardage totals were 1,831, then 1,064, followed by 842. Le’Veon Bell had 1,946 yards in 2017 followed by 1,250 in 2019 and 466 in 2020 (11 games played). The decline of backs is hard to predict, nearly impossible. Barkley is currently 25 years old, but will be 26 on February 9. If Barkley were to get the four-year deal he desires, he would be under contract through his age 29 season, which is past the prime of running backs in almost every case excluding a few outliers.  


The Money Should Be Used Elsewhere

As inflation continues to rise and NFL markets continue to grow, as will player contracts in numerical value. Barkley will demand a contract similar to what Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott have signed to, if not more. Elliott had signed a six-year, $90 million extension back in 2019, and is owed an average annual salary of $15 million.  McCaffrey currently has the largest running back contract in terms of annual value at $16-plus million after signing a four-year, $64 million extension in 2020. Barkley’s salary would easily eclipse $14 million, that money should be used to fill the gaping hole at the wide receiver position. By saving the cap space, the Giants could sign one of the many upcoming free agent wide receivers in order to aid Daniel Jones’s passing attack.  

Players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers, and Allen Lazard could easily take this offense to another level through the air. In addition to being able to sign receivers, the Giants could use the cap space to help trade for a great wide receiver.  Receivers such as Brandin Cooks, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and DeAndre Hopkins are all certainly available for trade.   


The Draft

If the Giants were to let Barkley go in an effort to fill the hole at receiver, this then creates a large hole at running back. The solution to this problem is an easy one, glaring even. The Giants have the 25th pick in April’s upcoming NFL Draft, and they are in a prime position to draft Barkley’s replacement. As previously mentioned, rookie running backs often have great seasons and later great careers.  Kenneth Walker, Najee Harris, Jonathan Taylor, Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry. All of these premier running backs were highly touted, heavily scouted, and all drafted between the 24th and 45th picks of their respective drafts. We know there are late round or undrafted exceptions like Austin Ekeler, but it is unrealistic to believe the Giants would be able to find a diamond in the rough, as it is extremely rare. 

With the 25th overall pick, the Giants are in a very realistic position to draft a stud running back, currently the top backs are believed to be either Bijan Robinson or Jahmyr Gibbs. If the Giants were to extend Barkley, they may be unable to acquire a respectable receiver. The easiest and safest solution would be to acquire a good receiver and draft Robinson or Gibbs, who the Giants would have under contract for five years through his rookie contract.   


Saquon Barkley is an incredible talent and is one of America’s favorite NFL players. He deserves an incredible amount of money after proving himself yet again in 2022. He will be receiving one of the most lucrative contracts in running back history, but it shouldn’t be from the New York Giants. 


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