Eagles Think Giants ‘Underutilized’ Saquon Barkley in 1 Key Area

Saquon Barkley

Getty Saquon Barkley's new team thinks he was "underutilized" in one key areas by the New York Giants.

The Philadelphia Eagles think the New York Giants “underutilized” Saquon Barkley in the passing game. It’s one reason why the Eagles paid Barkley handsomely to switch allegiances within the NFC East in 2024 NFL free agency, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.

He detailed how Barkley has “real pass-game value, which Philadelphia felt was underutilized a bit in his time with the Giants, particularly amid the quarterback tumult there after Daniel Jones’s injury last year. So where some might pigeonhole Barkley as a back, the Eagles saw a difference-maker.”

This is a curious belief from the Eagles. Barkley’s receiving stats with the Giants were always more than solid, even excellent at times.

Being able to catch passes is far from the only reason the Eagles agreed to pay Barkley $26 million guaranteed as part of a contract “worth up to $46.75M,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s a lot of money to throw at somebody playing a position devalued in today’s game. The Eagles need Barkley to justify the investment by being the dual-threat playmaker he so often was for Big Blue.

That’s the Eagles’ problem, but the Giants won’t look back if new arrival Devin Singletary proves an able replacement for Barkley.

Saquon Barkley’s Numbers Show the Eagles Are Wrong

It’s hard to conclude the Giants didn’t use Barkley as a receiver enough. Not when he snagged 91 receptions from 121 targets as a rookie in 2018.

Even his most recent statistics show Barkley remained a big factor in how the Giants attacked defenses through the air. He tied for the team lead with 57 receptions in 2022. Barkley got 60 targets last season, despite losing three games to a sprained ankle, and playing with a carousel of unconvincing quarterbacks.

Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka deemed Barkley a good target for backup passers Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito.

Taylor connected with Barkley ripped for a 32-yard catch and run for a touchdown against division rivals the Washington Commanders in Week 7.

This short-range dumpoff was typical of the kind of passes the Giants threw Barkley’s way the last two seasons. He averaged -1.7 yards before catch per reception in 2022 and 1.9 yards YBC last season, per Pro Football Reference.

Those numbers represent the one way the Giants didn’t unleash Barkley’s full potential as a receiver. This coaching staff didn’t move him across formations enough to utilize his athleticism and versatility.

Barkley showed what he can do when split out as a wide receiver against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021.

Daboll and Kafka hinted at using Barkley as a wideout more often when they arrived in 2022, but it didn’t happen. Instead, Barkley had to settle for getting vertical from the backfield.

It’s what he did for this 24-yard touchdown grab on a swing route found by DeVito against the Commanders in Week 11.

Barkely had been asking coaches to call this kind of play.

The Eagles might be more generous with a receiving role in their offense, but they primarily need Barkley to improve a “run game ranked first in the NFL in yards before contact and dead last in yards after contact,” according to Breer. Barkley will help, because “he’s one of six players in the league to have over 1,000 yards after contact over the last two years.”

Barkley’s usage on a new team shouldn’t concern the Giants. Their focus should remain on finding the best ways to deploy his gifted replacement.

Devin Singletary Will Be a Dual-Threat RB for Giants

Daboll knows Singletary well from their time with the Buffalo Bills from 2019-21. The coach worked with the player “on some pass catching fundamentals” in 2021, per Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com.

Singletary’s never been prolific as a receiver, but he was targeted a career-high 40 times on Daboll’s watch that season.

Singletary is defined more by his efforts on the ground. He offers natural elusiveness in traffic and some breakaway speed in space.

Those qualities helped the 26-year-old produce a host of big plays for the Houston Texans in 2023. The best were highlighted by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants.

These highlights show Singletary has the range to assume Barkley’s old role as the Giants’ RB1 and still thrive.

Read More