The New York Giants have had one heck of a season.
Even after a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Divisional Round, nobody expected them to be one of the final eight teams remaining this season.
With a new GM in Joe Schoen and a new head coach in Brian Daboll, the Giants had a lot of success, including a postseason win against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Giants offense was propelled on the ground, largely due to two men, running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones, The Giants rushed for 2,519 yards on the ground and Barkley and Jones accounted for 2,020 of those yards. But here’s where things get interesting- both are free agents this offseason.
Barkley played this season on the fifth year option. Jones played this season on the fourth year of his rookie deal, but with Jones, Schoen and Daboll decided to decline his option after Jones struggled mightily in 2020 and 2021, throwing a combined 21 TDs over those two seasons to go with 17 interceptions.
If the Giants plan to keep this team moving forward with both players, they have a small window to try and lock one of them down to a long-term contract and use the franchise tag on the other. If they fail to do that, one of those two will become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL begins it’s new league year in March.
Would the Giants risk losing Daniel Jones and have nothing at the QB position? Or would they risk letting Saquon Barkley test free agency? Neither idea can be an appetizing one for Schoen.
Conversely, are the Giants ready to commit long-term to one of these two players? We discussed Jones’ struggles in ‘20 and ‘21. There are definitely still questions if Jones can be a franchise QB. Barkley, on the other hand, has dealt with injuries throughout his career and committing a long-term deal to Barkley may be a risk they aren’t willing to do.
Ideally for the Giants, they get Jones to agree to a reasonable contract, something like 4 years, $100 million with $60 million guaranteed. Would Jones be willing to do that? Great question. Putting Barkley on the franchise tag makes a ton of sense because with very few high-paid running backs, the franchise tag is expected to be between $10 and $11 million.
If the Giants can extend Jones and tag Barkley, none of this matters. But if they aren’t able to extend Jones, the team may choose to use the franchise tag on Jones and let Barkley test the waters.
If Barkley becomes a free agent, that’s going to be a possibility that the Chicago Bears must explore. Let me first state that I am not one to spend first round picks on running backs or pay running backs near $20 million a year, but with Barkley, I’d have to consider it. He’s a dynamic runner, you put him in the backfield with Justin Fields and Khalil Herbert spelling him, this running game could become something special. Not to mention, Barkley brings a significant receiving threat out of the backfield (Barkley averages 4 catches per game throughout his career).
The injury risk is there for Barkley. The Bears could pony up a lot of cash and not get much back if Barkley can’t stay on the field. But with Luke Getsy running the offense, the running game is going to remain important, and having a Fields/Barkley/Herbert backfield would be one that would keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night, that’s for sure.
Barkley to the Bears? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.