Giants Can Replace Saquon Barkley With Brian Daboll Favorite

Brian Daboll

Getty The New York Giants can replace Saquon Barkley with a favorite of head coach Brian Daboll.

Saquon Barkley is the most talented player on the New York Giants’ roster, but that’s no guarantee he’ll back for the 2023 NFL season. Not when the star running back is a free agent at the same time the Giants also need to re-sign quarterback Daniel Jones.

General manager Joe Schoen has indicated he’s focused on agreeing a long-term contract with Jones, so Barkley’s future appears murky. Fortunately, the Giants can replace No. 26 by dipping into a free-agent class loaded with talented running backs, including a favorite of head coach Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills’ starter Devin Singletary.

His fit with the Giants is explained by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports: “Assuming Saquon Barkley cashes in elsewhere, the Giants will need a new featured back behind Daniel Jones. While Singletary is far from the physical specimen that Barkley is, he’s been one of the steadiest starters of the last four years, quietly producing as a dual threat in a Bills offense relatively averse to a standard ground game. General manager Joe Schoen helped draft Singletary in Buffalo, and head coach Brian Daboll also worked with him for three seasons prior to arriving in New York.”

Singletary became a roving weapon in Daboll’s system, a back capable of making plays on the ground and in the passing game. The 25-year-old’s versatility and modest market value should make him an appealing target for the Giants, whether Barkley stays or goes.

Brian Daboll’s Former Pupil Perfect for Giants

Singletary learned the nuances of the pro game on Daboll’s watch, and their player-coach relationship yielded some creditable numbers. They include a career-high 870 rushing yards in 2021, two years after Singletary averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie.

The latter number shows Singletary’s big-play potential as a runner. That threat is further endorsed by Singletary gaining 3.1 yards before contact in 2022, compared with just 1.5 after contact, per Pro Football Reference.

His ability to stretch the field showed up on this 33-yard touchdown scamper against the Chicago Bears in Week 16:

The Giants need to maintain this ability to gain yardage in chunks on the ground if Barkley leaves. He tallied nine runs of 20-plus yards in 2022, including two of 40 or more.

Barkley also added another element to the passing game by tying for the team lead with 57 receptions. Singletary is a useful receiver in his own right, one who turned 38 catches into 280 yards last season, with 15 of those grabs going for first downs.

He also caught 107 passes in three years under Daboll, who worked hard to improve Singletary’s game as a receiver, per 13WHAM reporter Dan Fetes:

Signing Singletary to replace Barkley would be a bargain, with the former valued by at $5.5 million annually for three years. Keeping Barkley is a more expensive proposition.

Joe Schoen Makes Worrying Barkley Hint

Speaking at the annual Scouting Combine, “Schoen made it clear that Jones is the priority,” according to Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo. Schoen told reporters he doesn’t believe tagging the quarterback is good for the Giants, nor “best for Daniel.”

As Lombardo pointed out, using the franchise tag on Jones is not as financially viable as tagging Barkley: “For perspective, the franchise tag for quarterbacks is slated to cost $32.4 million and $10 million for the running back tag. There goes your cap space.”

Schoen has money to work with, roughly $43,151,832, but there’s more to this decision than fiscal implications. While it’s more expensive to tag Jones, he’s coming off just one outstanding season, making giving him years a risky proposition.

Barkley is the safer prospect for a multi-year deal, thanks to more consistent production when he’s been healthy. Said production includes three 1,000-yard rushing seasons and as many years with 50-plus catches.

The only upside to tagging Barkley or letting him walk is how it’s easier to replace a starting running back than finding a new QB1. Singletary is a logical fit if the Giants either need to find an immediate alternative to Barkley or safeguard losing him a year from now.

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