John Mara Talks Possibility of Future Extension for RB Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley

Getty Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants warms up prior to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 29, 2019.

It is no secret that New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley has dealt with a slew of injuries in the past two seasons. And in 2021, he is coming off a torn ACL and MCL, which caused him to miss 14 games last year.

The Giants opted to exercise Barkley’s fifth-year option this offseason, which puts him under contract with the team until after the 2022 season. But that doesn’t mean he can’t earn himself a long-term extension this year if he puts up similar monstrous numbers to his rookie campaign in 2018, when he led the NFL with 2,028 scrimmage yards and scored 15 total touchdowns on the way to his first Pro Bowl.

Co-owner John Mara weighed in on the possibility of extending Barkley, saying in his 2021 “State of the Giants” press conference on August 17 that he wants to see the fourth-year tailback come back healthy and produce on the field before those talks take place.

“You need to see him back on the field producing, which we expect that to be the case,” said Mara. “Our medical people feel very good about where he’s at right now. I like what I’ve seen from him out on the field. Hopefully that will be an easy decision for us as well.”

And if Barkley can return to his superstar form, it will likely be a no-brainer for the Giants to lock him up after investing a No. 2 overall pick in him back in the 2018 NFL draft.

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Gettleman Has No Regrets

Although general manager Dave Gettleman made the unorthodox move to draft a running back No. 2 overall, despite durability concerns surrounding the position, he has no regrets taking Barkley.

“I would not make a different decision today than I made in 2018,” Gettleman said in his own August 17 conversation with the media. “Plain and simple.”

Albeit Barkley’s injury issues, which have forced him to miss a total of 17 games across the last two seasons, the Giants are hopeful that he will once again reemerge as one of the best running backs in the league next season, as long as he can stay on the field.

Mara’s Expectations

Mara has made it clear that the Giants need to win more games for him to be satisfied, after enduring four straight sub-.500 seasons.

But as far as 2021 being a year where it is playoffs or bust, Mara refused to hang that over his team’s head.

“I’ll look at that at the end of the season and see whether I think we’re continuing to make progress and moving in the right direction, but I’m not issuing a playoff mandate,” Mara said. “I don’t think those ever do any good. I don’t think I need to say or do anything to motivate the people in this building any more than they’re already motivated. They all want to win.”

“I gave the same answer last year, I think, but when I walk off the field after the last game, whenever that is, I want to feel like ‘Does this group give us a chance to win the Super Bowl? Are we moving in that direction?’” Mara said. “If the answer to that is yes, then we’re not going to consider making big changes. If I feel like we’re going backwards, that’s another discussion.”

If the Giants don’t take a step forward next season, it could very well force Mara to make changes, starting with Gettleman, who has gone 19-33 since taking over at the helm in 2018.

It could also mean that the Giants will move on from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and quarterback Daniel Jones. Regardless of what happens, this season is undeniably a make-or-break year for a number of individuals within the organization.

“In my recent memory, this is the most positive this fan base has been about our team,” Mara said. “I’ve gotten very few negative letters or emails about where we are as a team right now.”

“If we do not have a good season that will obviously change.”

Given the way the last four seasons have gone, Mara is trying to stay patient, but it is obviously becoming more difficult for him at this point.

“I think I just have to try to continue to have some patience,” he added, “which is not easy for me given the last four seasons we’ve had.”


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