Saquon Barkley is set to play on the franchise tag, but he’ll still be able to count on last season’s backup Matt Breida, who is set to re-sign with the New York Giants in 2023 NFL free agency.
Breida will return to the team “on a one-year deal nearing $2.3M in total incentives,” according to Jordan Schultz of The Score:
Keeping Breida in the fold is a smart move because he’s a proven running back who can step in for Barkley if needed. He also has a strong knowledge of the playbook favored by head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, both of whom made use of Breida’s versatility at times last season.
Giants Smart to Keep Saquon Barkley Deputy
Breida’s numbers from 2022 won’t wow anybody. Just 220 yards on 54 carries, to go with a further 118 from 20 catches.
Fortunately, his value went beyond statistics. Breida offered some genuine breakaway speed as a runner, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and producing four runs of 10-plus yards. His track record means he can be trusted to step in for Barkley, if injury strikes again for a player who tore his ACL in 2020.
Breida, a former San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills rotation back, also arrived at MetLife Stadium familiar with Daboll’s offense. It was Daboll who called plays for the Bills when Breida appeared in nine games for the AFC East outfit during the 2021 season.
Daboll was aware of Breida’s skills and used them in a variety of ways to confuse defenses with alignment and versatility. It worked beautifully on this play against the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Playoffs, highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View:
Putting Breida and Barkley into the same backfield and moving the former around gave the Giants an extra edge on offense during the season’s run-in. Breida also distinguished himself “with his blocking ability,” according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
By bringing Breida back on a short-term deal, following the decision to tag Barkley, the Giants have secured their running back room for another season. It means general manager Joe Schoen won’t have to worry about the position until a year from now, leaving him free to address more pressing matters on offense.
Giants Need to Shift Free-Agency Focus on Offense
With running back taken care of, the time is ripe for the Giants to enter the free-agent market for a wide receiver or two. The team is already showing interest in veteran pass-catchers Cole Beasley and Parris Campbell, but the Giants need a splash move to truly bolster the position.
Schoen may struggle to find the marquee name he needs during free agency. This year’s contingent of available wideouts lacks star power, with Jakobi Meyers of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs’ slot specialist Juju Smith-Schuster headlining the group.
It may be easier to find a playmaker capable of making an instant impact from the 2023 draft class. There’s no shortage of gifted prospects, with USC’s Jordan Addison and TCU star Quentin Johnston near the top of the pecking order.
Not having to use prime draft capital or premium free-agency dollars to add to the backfield means the Giants will have ample opportunities to acquire at least one dynamic receiver this offseason.