Saquon Barkley is under contract with the Giants through 2022, and at just 25, with a playmaking Pro Bowl run on his resume, the former first-round running back could make for an intriguing comeback story under new coach Brian Daboll. New general manager Joe Schoen didn't rule out fielding -- or seeking -- trade offers for Barkley this offseason, however, telling reporters at the scouting combine this week he's "open to everything."
The stance makes total sense. With Barkley due $7.2 million in a contract year, and a future extension likely to cost the Giants anywhere between $10M and $15M per year depending on his performance, New York has every reason to seek any reasonable offers it can get. Barkley is still young, and he's flashed MVP-caliber talent as a multi-purpose back, but he's also nursed injuries in three straight seasons, missing 21 games since 2019. In today's NFL, where most RBs are as replaceable as ever, he's fully expendable.
The return, of course, wouldn't be extravagant. But the Giants are in need of cap space, and a trade would save them up to $7.2M (they could also agree to eat some of Barkley's 2022 salary). They could also use any extra draft-pick compensation for their rebuild, to address bigger needs like quarterback, offensive line, pass rusher, and so on.
Which teams might actually consider trading for Barkley? Here are 11 potential landing spots:
They have lots of tough decisions to make financially, so adding Barkley rather than re-signing pending free agents Leonard Fournette and/or Ronald Jones doesn't necessarily seem like a cost-effective bet. Still, Bruce Arians might prefer the upside as he desperately tries to keep a post-Tom Brady offense afloat.
Do they need another RB? Not really. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson combined for 1,500 yards and 20 scores in 2021, and that was without typical No. 3 James White. But when has that stopped Bill Belichick from cramming his backfield with insurance? The Pats spent big last offseason and might view Barkley as luxury help for QB Mac Jones.
Kyle Shanahan has found success feeding just about anyone in his backfield, so it'd be slightly out of character for him to pay a premium at RB. Then again, for a one-year trial, you could do a lot worse. They love to run the ball, Barkley would make for a physical complement to new QB Trey Lance, and Raheem Mostert is hitting free agency.
By keeping QB Matt Ryan, they're indicating they still plan to compete rather than undergo a total rebuild. With Cordarrelle Patterson hitting free agency, they need more than Mike Davis in the backfield. Coach Arthur Smith knows the value of a physically freakish ball-carrier from his days with Derrick Henry.
As a current contender, their eyes will always be on additional toys for QB Josh Allen. Devin Singletary has proven capable when given opportunity in their backfield, but he'd be far more valuable splitting carries with a recharged Barkley than, say, Zack Moss. Imagine how imposing Allen-Barkley option runs would be to opposing defenses.
Andy Reid has taken a few flyers on veteran RBs lately, from Le'Veon Bell to LeSean McCoy to current No. 2 Jerick McKinnon. Barkley would be the most talented yet, freeing Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the burden to emerge as a reliable RB1. They've got cap space, and they're always looking to surround Patrick Mahomes with more talent.
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Pete Carroll might as well invest in his own banged-up project from the 2018 class, Rashaad Penny. But if they can't strike a deal in free agency, or even if they do, Chris Carson's future is also up in the air. Carroll loves the old-school ground-and-pound game, and Barkley would essentially give him two bruising backs to play behind Russell Wilson.
They need help at literally every position. They have money to spend. And GM Nick Caserio proved in 2021 he's willing to throw all kinds of battered veteran RBs at the wall in hopes that one of them sticks.
GM Steve Keim is no stranger to taking flyers on injury-prone veterans. More importantly, both James Conner and Chase Edmonds are due to hit free agency, and they expect to lose at least one half of the pairing. Their eyes are obviously on competing now, and a healthy Barkley could make their offense even more explosive.
Barkley wouldn't have to move very far. More importantly, the Jets could use a better complement for promising 2021 starter Michael Carter, and they've got close to $50M in available cap space. As a bonus, Barkley's dad is a diehard Jets fan to this day, perhaps instilling some fondness for Gang Green in his son.
New coach Mike McDaniel is all about the ground game, and the Dolphins have only Myles Gaskin under contract through 2022. With an NFL-leading $60M in cap space, they can afford to make a splash for Barkley's upside behind what figures to be a restocked O-line. As a bonus, the RB might get to reunite with Penn State product Mike Gesicki.