Speaking after the team’s first practice session of voluntary minicamp, Barkley said he’s “tired” of the rumors and is looking forward to playing for the Giants this fall.
“I just want to kill, go crazy,” Barkley said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “I’m tired of the BS that is said about me. I want to go out there and prove to this organization that the player they drafted is still there.”
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Barkley, 25, was the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year that season. Since then, however, it’s been a rocky road for the star running back. He missed a few games due to injury in his second season, then missed all but two games in 2020 due to a torn ACL.
Last season, Barkley managed to play 13 games but only mustered 856 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns. He did not resemble anything like the dynamic playmaker Giants fans saw during his rookie year. The team picked up his fifth-year option before the 2021 season, but the injury history and lack of production clouded his future in New York.
As it stands today, Barkley has a salary cap hit of $7,217,000 in 2022, according to Spotrac. That is the eighth largest cap hit on the Giants’ roster this season and the sixth largest cap hit among all running backs across the NFL (Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is No. 1 with a whopping $18,220,000 coming his way).
As the Giants figure out what to do with Dave Gettleman’s leftovers under new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, Barkley might be the new regime’s biggest question mark. On one hand, he’s a talented running back with one-of-a-kind ability when fully healthy. On the other hand, he’s suffered through a lot of injuries and is now due a lot of money.
If a willing trade partner with a decent proposal emerges, the Giants could still move Barkley. In the meantime, it looks like Daboll is at least forming a connection with him at practice.
For those hoping that Barkley stays with the Giants, this is more promising than the James Bradberry situation. Bradberry, the team’s top cornerback, is not in attendance at voluntary minicamp and is unlikely to remain on the roster this fall.
Giants Have Taken Calls on Barkley’s Availability
Earlier this offseason at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Daboll confirmed that the Giants have answered calls from teams interested in trading for Barkley, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.
Daboll also clarified that the Giants aren’t necessarily shopping Barkley on the trade market. Nevertheless, Barkley said on Wednesday that Daboll’s comments at the Combine caused a lot of people to reach out to him.
“My phone blew up,” Barkley said, per Vacchiano. “I thought I was traded.”
Barkley remains with the Giants for now, but he’s not out of the woods yet when it comes to the possibility of a future trade.
Barkley Was Last RB Selected With a Top-5 Pick
Is a running back ever worth a top-five pick in the NFL Draft? This debate has raged for years, but the Giants may have finally ended it. Since they did it to get Barkley in 2018, no other team has spent that kind of draft capital on a running back.
In fact, no team has even spent a top-20 pick on a running back since the Giants took Barkley No. 2 overall. Here’s a list of the first running back selected in each of the past three drafts:
- 2019: Josh Jacobs (24th overall), Las Vegas Raiders
- 2020: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (32nd overall), Kansas City Chiefs
- 2021: Najee Harris (24th overall), Pittsburgh Steelers
ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay put out a joint-mock draft this week, and they don’t have a single running back coming off the board until the second round (Iowa State’s Breece Hall to the Houston Texans at Pick No. 37).
Right before Barkley, we saw multiple teams spend top-five picks on running backs. The Dallas Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in 2016, and the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Leonard Fournette fourth overall in 2017.
The Barkley saga in New York appears to have served as a cautionary tale for the rest of the NFL, as league-wide draft philosophies are undoubtedly shifting away from selecting running backs with early picks.