NFL Free Agency Primer: Saquon Barkley

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. In the coming months, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Saquon Barkley

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley bounced back from a disappointing few seasons in 2022, rushing for 1312 yards at a solid 4.4 yards per attempt and adding another 338 yards through the air while earning his second Pro Bowl. The former second-overall pick has never quite recaptured the explosiveness that made him the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, but his resurgence was a big reason why the Giants battled their way all the way to Divisional Round after five straight losing seasons.

The Fit:

Barkley is a three-down back when healthy, but his struggles to maintain his effectiveness through injury make him a risky proposition: he averaged a middling 41.8 yards per game and 3.5 yards per attempt over 15 appearances from 2020 to 2021. He also isn't as effective a receiver out of the backfield as he once was; he's averaging a mere 4.7 yards per target since 2020. The Giants would probably like to keep him, but if he can't be retained, he'd make sense as a luxury pickup for a team that wants to add another dimension to an already effective offense, ala Christian McCaffrey on the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cost:

Barkley's high profile relative to his quality of play will make him a tricky negotiation; being drafted so high to such a visible franchise as the Giants has artificially inflated his stardom. The fact that he's hitting the market at the same time as Giants quarterback Daniel Jones means he could also avoid the franchise tag. He could land near the top of the running back market, somewhere in the neighborhood of Ezekiel Elliot and Alvin Kamara's $15 million per year deals. Something closer to the $12-13 million range occupied by Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon would be more appropriate. 

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