As a Giants fan, it feels wonderful being 3-1. It may not be the prettiest 3-1 record, but it’s still tied (though among many) for the 2nd best record in the NFL after a month of games (Damn you, Philly). Although this is a “rebuilding” year, this new regime has us and the players believing how great this team can become in due time. Offensively, this record wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of our undisputed team MVP, Saquon Barkley. Despite his team carrying plays, we have pundits and fans opining that the team should trade Barkley as soon as possible. While trading away a high-quality asset during a “rebuild” year is the typical smart move; this is why the Giants should not in their case.
This Giants team has a new regime in town trying to sell the players on a new program. They are also doing this while not having much money to acquire high end talent at the moment. Despite the lack of sheer talent, this team has grinded its way to a strong record so far. Once again, a big part of this has been the exploits of Saquon Barkley. How does a new regime send a message of winning culture to their fanbase and their players if they sell off their best asset? It would demoralize the team/fanbase by making it impossible to win any more games and could lose the team’s “buy in” on their process. Nothing screams “we don’t believe” louder than leadership taking away talent when they are winning games. Giants cannot afford to fall into this hole and risk the new culture they are building.
Another reason you cannot ship out Barkley is the franchise or transition tag. The fact we could get another epic year out of Saquon without a long-term commitment is something this team cannot ignore given the state of the team. This is even more important since this team lacks any kind of firepower and will need a couple of drafts/free agent classes to replenish the weapons on the Giants long term. We all know the life cycle of the NFL running back (usually tapers off at 28) and the team has one more year left after this one to squeeze out max production from Barkley before the typical drop off happens. There is even a chance they can tag him again in 2024 if his advanced metrics continue to support his abilities and if the team somehow doesn’t have a bevy of weapons by then. If the team is about sustaining long-term winning, its starts by keeping talent around as long as one can afford to do so.
Lastly, this team needs to be able to sell tickets. Though this is more important from an ownership perspective (profitability), it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a factor in these types of decisions. Fans want to come see their team win and shipping out their franchise talent would contradict that. No amount of free medium Pepsi will bring fans to see their team get crushed, especially after seeing their team win up to this point. Don’t forget upcoming free agents want to come to a team that prioritizes winning and have fans in the stands. We don’t want to be like the Jacksonville Jaguars and having to overpay a free agent to play for us because our team doesn’t retain talent, prioritize winning, or have fans in the stands consistently. We already saw what that looks like on the Giants with the Kenny Golladay signing (shudder).
At the end of the day, the team has a responsibility to their players and fans to do their best to win (tanking is trash). It is impossible to embody that message by shipping talent off when the team is in the heat of the race. Missing out on getting an extra 3rd or 4th round pick for a top player is not going to slow down the rebuild enough to matter. The only way it makes sense to move on from Barkley is if the team falls out of the race by losing 6 straight or if a team offers the Giants a team changing haul that involves a 1st round pick (unlikely for a RB). Until we see these scenarios unfold, this team must trudge forward with winning as best as they can…and it starts by holding onto Saquon Barkley.