Saquon Barkley was the player most responsible for the New York Giants’ impressive turnaround this season. Unfortunately for the Giants, Barkley’s season-long reminder he’s one of the best running backs in the NFL will make him a marked man ahead of 2023 free agency officially opening on Wednesday, March 15.
The Buffalo Bills should be one of his keenest suitors, according to Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports. Dajani believes the Bills, nearly men the last three seasons within the upper echelons of the AFC, need Barkley to help them finally realize Super Bowl ambitions: “The Bills are still one of the best teams in the NFL, and they may just be one piece away. That one piece could be a star running back.”
Barkley would put the Bills over the top, but Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll won’t want to see his best player join his former team. If that happens, ex-Bills offensive coordinator Daboll could return the favor by raiding the AFC East club for an effective all-rounder in the backfield.
Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones Deals Difficult to Accommodate
Finding room for new contracts for Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones is the Giant’s priority this offseason. It’s going to be a tough needle to thread for general manager Joe Schoen.
He’s got to decide who is more important. The answer’s simple for Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, who confidently proclaims “Jones will not hit the open market and he will return to the Giants.”
Schwartz is nowhere near as optimistic about Barkley’s return: “The Barkley negotiations have the potential to be far more uncomfortable for both sides. During the bye week, the Giants offered a contract that averaged $12.5 million on what is believed to be a three-year deal. Barkley’s camp rejected that and the team and the player at this point are not close in where they believe the new deal should fall.”
If the Giants won’t up their previous offer, Barkley will be able to back himself on the market. His career-best 295 carries and 1,312 yards are selling points no RB-needy team is likely to resist.
Barkley was most responsible for the consistency of an otherwise workmanlike Giants’ offense during a 10-8-1 season. He was also the unit’s primary source of big plays, like for this 40-yard run during the otherwise depressing 38-7 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Playoffs:
Barkley’s contributions contrast with those of Jones. While the latter also enjoyed a banner season, Jones still threw for just 15 touchdowns and directed an air attack that produced a mere 28 completions of 20-plus yards, the fewest in the NFL.
As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out, the inconsistency in Jones’ tape make his next contract a tough call for the Giants:
Jones’ saving grace is the importance attached to an even competent quarterback at the pro level. Running backs, no matter how gifted, aren’t valued anything like winning signal-callers.
If the Schoen makes his call based on that logic, Barkley will have no shortage of suitors willing to make him feel more valued. The Bills are a good landing spot, and Barkley moving to Orchard Park would clear the way for one of Daboll’s former players to replace him.
Buffalo Bills’ Running Back an Intriguing Option for Giants
Devin Singletary played three seasons for Daboll while the latter called plays in Buffalo. That’s invaluable experience which makes Singletary scheme-ready to step into the RB1 role for the Giants if needed.
He’s nowhere close to as dynamic as Barkley, but Singletary is a smart and versatile weapon Daboll knows how to use in both phases of offense. Singletary has averaged 4.6 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons, while also tallying 78 receptions.
The 25-year-old scored six touchdowns this season, including this two-yard catch agains the Miami Dolphins in Week 3:
Singletary’s expertise in the passing game, both as a receiver and a pass-protector, would be assets to Jones. Meanwhile, his breakaway speed would make Singletary a threat in a new-look Giants’ ground attack.
He’s a free agent who could reunite with another former Bills’ back, Matt Breida, assuming Schoen retains the latter. Neither would be the game-breaking workhorse Barkley is, but together Singletary and Breida could help form a useful committee to pick up the slack if the Giants let their prized playmaker walk next month.