Entering his fifth year with the New York Giants, Saquon Barkley has become one of the most polarizing players within the Giants fanbase. After a hot start in his rookie season, where he won rookie of the year and had over 2,000 scrimmage yards, Barkley has steadily declined each season. The last 2 years have been plagued with injuries and he ran scared in 2021.
The Giants are in a unique spot with Saquon Barkley because his entire fifth year option ($7.2 million) is considered a base salary. If Saquon is traded, the Giants will gain the full $7.2M in cap space with no dead money. The cap strapped Giants, who need to look toward the future, can’t afford a $7.2M running back right now. It’s tough to find a reason to keep Barkley.
I think there’s two very clear scenarios that are about to play out with Saquon if the Giants choose to keep him.
Scenario 1: Saquon struggles again
Saquon Barkley plays mediocre to average next season and the Giants paid $7.2M for a running back performance they could have gotten from a cheap free agent back. All in a season where the team likely won’t be very good. Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll let Saquon Barkley walk for absolutely nothing in 2023.
Let’s make this clear – you’re not getting a comp pick for Saquon in this scenario. No one is going to pay Barkley big money after 3 bad seasons in a row. If he gets a prove it deal in the range of $3M – $6M, any potential comp pick you would get is going to be cancelled out by a free agent you sign in the same dollar range. The Giants are almost guaranteed to sign someone in that range or above that range in 2023 (every team is).
In this scenario, you don’t get any value out of Barkley.
Scenario 2: Saquon bounces back
Saquon Barkley actually bounces back after 2 seasons of injuries and has a great season in 2022. In this scenario, you still struggle as a team because great to elite individual running back play doesn’t consistently win you football games (look at Adrian Peterson’s career). Now you feel obligated to pay Saquon Barkley big money and that’s never a good idea. You give Saquon a big, lucrative contract and you’ll regret it almost immediately. History has shown us in recent years that big RB contracts are poor investments for franchises. The Rams moved off of Todd Gurley and the Panthers and Cowboys would love to go back in time and not sign their backs to huge deals. You likely are looking to move off Saquon 2 years into the contract and have to take on dead money to do so.
Now, there’s going to be a group that says in this scenario you can let Saquon walk and get a comp pick. Again, chances are the Giants, who will be flush with cap space in 2023, sign a free agent that cancels out or significantly lowers the pick you would get for Saquon. Draft pick compensation is not guaranteed in this scenario.
If the Giants want GUARANTEED draft pick compensation for a player – you trade Saquon Barkley this offseason. Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll need to prioritize the future of the New York Football Giants and it’s tough to see a scenario where Saquon Barkley is part of that future without breaking the bank for a position that just doesn’t matter. And before someone breaks up Derrick Henry – tell me the last great RB that won a Super Bowl.
What does the compensation for Barkley look like?
Let’s look at some recent RB trades.
- Sony Michel was just traded for a 6th round pick and a conditional 2023 4th round pick (if the Rams received a 4th round comp pick, if not it’s a 5th rounder).
- Carlos Hyde was traded for a 5th round pick in 2019 (CLE traded Hyde to JAC)
- Matt Breida was traded for a 5th round pick in 2020 (SF traded Breida to MIA)
- Jay Ajayi landed the Dolphins a 4th round pick in 2017 (MIA traded Ajayi to PHI)
- Duke Johnson was traded for a 3rd round pick in 2019 (CLE traded Johnson to HOU)
It’s more than reasonable to think the Giants would land a 3rd or 4th round pick for Saquon Barkley. A 3rd round pick the highest possible pick you’re landing for Saquon if you were to get a comp pick for him and you get that pick now which makes it more valuable.
This is a no-brainer. Trade Saquon Barkley. He may make you look bad in the short term, but you’ll be the real winner of the deal because it means we won’t have an overpaid running back on the roster.