The New York Giants sound like they will take phone calls on a possible Saquon Barkley trade this offseason
New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen said this week “everything” is on the table this offseason, including trading franchise running back and former No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley.
Earlier this offseason, the Giants picked up Barkley’s fifth-year option, for $7.2 million, but a trade would clear that money off the books without triggering a dead-money charge and get New York under the cap before the new league year begins.
Coming out of Penn State in 2018, Barkley was one of the more explosive running backs in the league, en-route to a 2,028 total yards from scrimmage rookie season with 15 total touchdowns.
However, Barkley has missed 18 games over the past two seasons, including due to a torn ACL in 2020 and an ankle injury in 2021.
Views inside the league of Barkley’s potential trade market vary wildly, from those who think he’d garner an early-round pick to those who believe the Giants would struggle to deal him at all.
“Honestly, I’m not sure anyone makes a trade for Saquon,” a league source familiar with the running back market tells FanSided. “You talk about ability, durability, and talent, and unfortunately for Saquon, this is just a guy who can’t stay healthy.
“If I’m a team looking to trade for Saquon, or any running back, I’d have to ask myself ‘what am I missing?’ The Giants already paid this guy, now they want to unload him just to free up from the salary? He’s a good kid, it’s not like he needs a change of scenery, but I don’ think I’d give up $7.2 million, plus a draft pick to take on that risk.”
But, as we’ve seen in the past, it only takes one suitor to make a deal and two to create a competitive market.
So, what might Barkley’s market value be if Schoen and the Giants indeed attempt to trade the 25-year-old who is currently averaging 4.5 yards per carry in his career but coming off a disappointing fourth season?
FanSided spoke to multiple current general managers, executives, coaches, and sources around the league to gauge what Barkley’s trade market might look like. The individuals were granted anonymity in order to speak freely about a player not from their team.
“I think a fourth-round pick is probably pretty reasonable,” a current general manager tells FanSided.
The GM’s assessment of Barkley’s value is tied to concerns over his suddenly lengthy injury history, and the fact that running backs so often fail to live up to their second contracts. There are myriad examples of running backs whose careers are either cut short or limited by injuries that rob them of their explosiveness and effectiveness.
For Schoen and the New York Giants, the struggle is going to be finding a team that believes it is a running back away from competing for a playoff berth or a Super Bowl, with the cap space to absorb Barkley’s fifth-year option, and who would likely be willing to extend him despite mega-deals like Christian McCaffrey’s, Ezekiel Elliott’s, and Alvin Kamara’s not living up to expectations.
However, one executive believes that there will be a team — particularly one that believes adding Barkley would push them closer to winning a Super Bowl — would happily pay a premium to plug him into their offense.
“This is a really good year to trade Saquon,” a long-time personnel executive and former general manager tells FanSided. “The running back class is pretty weak this draft, he’s still young, and I think the Giants could get at least a second-round pick.”
Schoen has no ties to Barkley, and certainly did not choose him No. 2 overall, that was his predecessor Dave Gettleman. So, it makes sense that the forward-thinking general manager who seems to subscribe to a theory of positional value that Gettleman clearly did not, would dangle Barkley on the market.
"“We’re still working through that, but I’m open to everything,” Schoen told reporters at the NFL Combine this week. “Like whether it’s trading player for player; I’ll listen to anybody. If it’s trading a couple players — I’m not going to say the entire roster, [that] we’re open for business on the entire roster. But if anyone is going to call and they’re interested in any of our players. I’m certainly going to listen.”"
Perhaps the best-case scenario for Schoen and the Giants, according to a head coach of a team that made the playoffs this season, is fetching a second and fourth-round pick for Barkley, similar to what the Colts netted for Marshall Faulk back in 1999.
If Barkley is able to return to form in 2022 — for the New York Giants or someone else, there’s always the chance that he bounces back and has a career renaissance when he would be two years removed from a torn ACL. Perhaps playing behind a vastly better offensive line than the Giants have offered through his first three-plus seasons would help Barkley return to his place alongside some of the game’s top running backs.
The Giants finding a trade partner to make that happen, though, could prove difficult.