By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer
Views expressed in the column are the author’s own.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was rumored to be a potential trade target earlier this month. However, NFL insider Ian Rapoport said recently that a trade is unlikely. As a Giants fan, I support the idea of trading Barkley. It’s an unpopular opinion among the fans, but I believe it’s the right decision. In this week’s column, I’m going to discuss why.
There are four main reasons I believe the Giants should trade Barkley, the first is positional value. In the last decade running backs have become less valuable compared to other positions. You no longer need a top 10 running back to compete for championships. As long as you have a good quarterback, good offensive line, and at least one good wide receiver, you can still have a successful offense.
I look at running backs like extra credit. Not having a top running back won’t hurt you if the rest of your offense is really good. Having a top running back can only help your offense. However, it’s a passing league. Even running backs who are capable receivers lack the value of a true receiver or tight end. The game has changed, and running backs no longer carry the value they once did.
The Super Bowl champion has not had a top-ten rusher based on rushing yards since 2016 when LeGarrette Blount finished eighth for the New England Patriots. That ended an 11-year streak of the champion finishing with a top ten rusher. The previous one was Corey Dillon in 2005, also for the Patriots.
You no longer need a dominant running back to win a championship. You need a top 10 quarterback, at least a top 15 offensive line, and at least one top 10-15 wide receiver. A top running back won’t hurt you, but it doesn’t help you as much as it used to.
The second reason I support trading Barkley is his injury history. He missed most of the 2020 season with a torn ACL and four games in 2021 with an ankle injury. He never fully recovered from the ACL last year and it showed. He couldn’t cut as well and he lacked the explosiveness he previously had. It’s hard to trust that he can stay healthy after suffering injuries in back-to-back seasons.
The third reason is his contract. Barkley will make $7.2 million next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2023. He’s going to ask for either an extension or to be released next offseason without an extension this offseason. That means either we’ll have to pay him or let him walk for nothing.
That leads into my final reason. As I said before, running backs lack the value they once had. I would rather trade him and get something rather than let him leave next year and get nothing. This is a player who was drafted second overall in the 2018 draft. It would be a massive mistake to get nothing in return for a player we drafted that high.
I didn’t like picking Barkley in 2018 despite how hyped he was as a prospect. While I supported him since he was a Giant, I also knew the chances of it not working out were high. The offensive line has been horrible for almost a decade, despite the team having a chance at taking guard Quenton Nelson, who is already a four-time all-pro including three first-team selections. He’s by far one of the best linemen in the league. Instead, they took a running back who showed promise early on, but a combination of injuries, poor offensive line play, and poor coaching led to a failure of a pick.
Barkley does not deserve the majority of the blame. I would argue he deserves very little of the blame. I think he’s a great player that needs a fresh start. I also think New York needs to admit it was a mistake to draft a running back that high and move on.