Giants’ Running Back Predicted to Join Cap-Rich NFC Rival

Saquon Barkley and Matt Breida

Getty The Giants are predicted to lose a top RB to a cap-rich NFC rival.

Saquon Barkley thrived in a New York Giants offense built around his talents in 2022, but the running back could find an even better team fit in 2023 NFL free agency.

The Chicago Bears are an ideal landing spot, according to The Draft Network’s Justin Melo. He predicts Barkley will join the Bears because of the NFC North franchise’s league-leading amount of money under the salary cap.

Having so much cash at their disposal means the Bears can afford the type of contract Barkley is likely to command on the veteran market. He’s rumored to want an annual salary on a par with what Christian McCaffrey earns with the San Francisco 49ers as the league’s highest-paid back.

The Bears can make room for a contract on that level. They could also give Barkley the lead-back role with the future of David Montgomery in doubt.

Barkley would surely thrive in an offense even more run-heavy than the Giants’ system, and a unit featuring a potential franchise quarterback in the form of Justin Fields.

NFL’s Worst Team Has a Lot to Offer Saquon Barkley

The Bears may have finished an NFL-worst 3-14, but they have plenty to offer Barkley. It starts with Fields, a dynamic, dual-threat QB1 who threw for 17 touchdowns and rushed for another eight this season.

Fields passed for two more scores than Giants’ starter Daniel Jones and out-gained the latter with a historic 1,143 yards on the ground compared to 708. Jones is a free agent and needing to secure his long-term future will make it difficult for the Giants to also keep Barkley.

Despite the disparity in numbers, one agent told Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo Jones can expect to make “at least $30 million annually.” That’s a hefty investment when Barkley wants McCaffrey money, $16 million a season, according to Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports.

Schoen must also make decisions about other key starters, including safety Julian Love, as well as useful depth players like Barkley’s backup Matt Breida, who’s another pending free agent.

Balancing the books isn’t a problem the Bears have to deal with when general manager Ryan Poles has $98,638,266 to work with, per

Melo outlined how those riches, along with the first pick in the 2023 NFL draft, mean Poles can be bold and flexible about putting talent around Fields: “David Montgomery is on an expiring contract and may explore other opportunities. The Bears possess the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re expected to trade that pick in exchange for a king’s ransom of future draft selections. Poles possesses a wealth of his resources at his disposal this offseason. Signing Barkley and pairing him with Fields would give the Bears the most fearsome backfield across the league.”

Barkley may welcome the chance to move to a team where a quarterback two years younger than Jones is guaranteed to still be in the lineup next season. The Bears would also be sure to make full use of Barkley as a bell-cow back after leading the NFL with 3,014 rushing yards on the ground from 558 attempts, second only to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bears can tee things up for a bright future, but the Giants are winners now and Barkley’s already the focal point of the offense. Those things can sell him on finding a compromise during negotiations with general manager Joe Schoen.

Giants Need to Reflect Best Weapon’s Worth

Barkley is the featured weapon on the Giants’ offense for a reason. He’s an elite runner who combines power with breakaway speed and natural elusiveness.

Those qualities helped No. 26 run for a career-high 1,312 yards. They included nine runs of 20-plus yards, like this 68-yarder against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, highlighted by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants:

Barkley also rushed for 10 touchdowns, including two against the Bears in Week 4. He even found time to tie for the team lead with 57 receptions.

As important as a winning quarterback is in today’s league, it’s close to impossible to overstate Barkley’s significance and value. That value has to be reflected by whatever offer Schoen puts on the table.

The GM admitted both sides “weren’t really that close” when they talked terms during the season, per SNY’s Anthony McCarron. If Schoen can’t find a way to get closer to the figure Barkley has in mind, there are teams, led by the Bears, armed with enough resources to swoop for one of the few elite players on the Giants’ roster.

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