Saquon Barkley was once considered one of the NFL's most electric talents. Then, in the early goings of the 2020 season, Barkley tore his ACL and was lost for the year. Barkley returned in 2021 but couldn't really do much or stand out amidst an anemic New York Giants offense that had many deeply-rooted issues. Barkley recorded 593 yards on 162 rushes for an average of only 3.7 yards per carry. He did some damage in the air, catching 41 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. These are all fine numbers, but still a far cry from what the Giants were hoping for when they took him No. 2 overall in 2018.
That's why the organization may be open to trading him. Barkley is entering the last year of his deal, and new Giants GM Joe Schoen said pretty much everybody was on the table for trade offers when talking to reporters yesterday. Ian Rapoport later said that Barkley was "unlikely" to be on the move, but that doesn't stop the rumor mill nor the debate shows.
It makes sense to trade Barkley now. He wasn't particularly far above replacement-level as a running back in 2021 and his most explosive play was a 41-yard run. This season will be the final of his contract, after which he'll most likely walk for nothing. As far as why teams would be interested, Barkley was an excellent dual threat in his first season. He racked up over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 15 TDs as the Giants found ways to get him involved in every phase of the offense. He was a threat to take it to the house on every play. Some of Barkley's explosiveness was sapped by his ACL injury and running backs do not age well but a smart offensive mind can turn Barkley into a productive player.
Which offensive mind might that be? Here are a few landing spots for Barkley if the Giants do decide to trade him.
Mike Tannenbaum identified the Bills as the most dangerous destination for Barkley on ESPN this morning, and he is certainly not wrong. Devin Singletary came into his own during the playoffs but simply is not nearly as agile or explosive as Barkley. There were more than a few yards lost because of that lack of explosiveness when Josh Allen had to dump it off to Singletary on passing downs. Barkley wouldn't fix the offense's significant rushing problems that plagued them for most of the year, but he'd add another playmaker to an offense chock-full of them.
Buffalo isn't really in a position to be handing out high draft picks for upgrades on the margins-- Brandon Beane seems smarter than that-- but if the Giants want to be rid of Barkley for something like a mid-round pick, the Bills make sense as a possible destination, especially given Schoen and new head coach Brian Daboll just came from Buffalo.
San Francisco 49ers
There is no real reason for the Niners to give up a draft pick and then pay Barkley's $7 million salary considering Kyle Shanahan has engineered one of the league's most dangerous rushing attacks without a single high-profile name in the backfield all the while. On the other hand! Could you imagine Barkley in the open space Shanahan can create from nothing? It would be outstanding.
San Francisco is likely more inclined to make this move if they trade Jimmy Garoppolo and free up a bunch of cap space. Even then, they aren't going to give up much for Barkley. But if there's any offense that can revitalize Barkley's career and make the most of his prodigious physical talents, it's the Niners.
When was the last time the Dolphins had a running back worth anything at all? Miami boasted a slew of new and old names cycling through the backfield in 2021 and still managed to finish 29th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Tua Tagovailoa needs any help he can get and new head coach Mike McDaniel is a Shanahan disciple who would undoubtedly enjoy some talent in the backfield to smooth the offense's transition. Enter Barkley!
It is very unclear what direction the Dolphins are taking in 2022 but Barkley fits with just about every option. Plus, the Giants can stick it to both the Jets and Patriots if they send Barkley to Miami.