New York Giants co-owner John Mara was asked earlier this week if the team was set to commit to running back Saquon Barkley long-term this off-season.
“I certainly think we’re not in any hurry to do that. We fully expect him to be as good as new. I mean, if anybody is going to spend 100 percent of his efforts to rehab, it will be Saquon just knowing what type of motivation he has and desire he has,” Mara told reporters. “But we’re not in any hurry to do that at this point in time, particularly after the money we just spent. But listen, I said it at the end of the season and I’ll say it again, we hope he’s going to be a Giant for life and at the appropriate time we’ll start those discussions.”
After busting out with a Pro Bowl rookie season in 2018, Barkley missed nearly all of the 2020 season with a torn ACL and was hampered for eight games in 2019 with a high ankle sprain.
The Giants have a decision to make with Barkley in May on whether or not to exercise his fifth-year option for 2022. The price of that option is pretty much set: $8.6 million if he makes the Pro Bowl this year and $7.2 million if he doesn’t.
New York will likely pick the option up based on Mara’s statements and then work on a long-term deal with Barkley after the season. That will give them a clearer picture of where Barkley is health wise as well as where the Giants are salary cap wise.
But, in reality, where do the Giants stand at running back at the moment? What assurances do they have if Barkley gets injured again?
Right now, the Giants are top heavy with Barkley at running back. They signed journeyman backup Devontae Booker and fullback Cullen Gillaspia in free agency to add to an uninspiring group that consists of Eli Penny, Jordan Chunn and Taquon Mizell.
That being stated, it makes sense the Giants either add another experienced back in free agency or find one in the draft.
Who could that player be? There are a ton of veterans looking for a team at the moment (including Todd Gurley, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson. LeSean McCoy and ex-Giants Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris) who could be had at bargain bin prices, but the draft might be the better route.
The Giants probably won’t take a running back in the first three rounds, meaning they’ll miss out on Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Najee Harris of Alabama and the two North Carolina studs, Javonte Williams and Michael Carter.
Some Day 3 possibilities could be Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell, Jaret Patterson of Buffalo, Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson, Trey Sermon of Ohio State, Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert, Chuba Hunnard of Oklahoma State, Kylin Hill of Mississippi State and Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson to name a few.
The Giants have to insure themselves at running back in 2021. It’s that simple if all of these changes are to come together — and it won’t cost them much to get it done.
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