Giants Called Free Agent Fit for Former All-Pro RB if Saquon Barkley Leaves

Raiders' Josh Jacobs called candidate to replace Giants' Saquon Barkley.

Getty New York Giants will have plenty of running back options in free agency if Saquon Barkley leaves.

The New York Giants are in a good spot at running back. By allowing Saquon Barkley to test the free agent market, both sides should learn whether or not the playmaker’s perceived value fits into their budget.

And if Barkley does get offered more than they’d prefer to pay, there are plenty of available running back options to replace him in March. This free agent class is both deep and distinguished at the position in 2024, and one potential Barkley successor was highlighted on February 21.

During a Fox Sports free agency ranking, reporters Greg Auman, Henry McKenna and Eric Williams joined forces to come up with possible landing spots for each of their top-50 UFAs. Barkley was placed 20th on the list, but the Giants were actually connected to the No. 15 free agent, Josh Jacobs.

“It’s a cold world for a running back these days, even for someone like Jacobs, who has proved he can run and catch the ball efficiently in his first five NFL seasons,” the Fox Sports crew noted. “It’s easy to imagine him putting up numbers that rival Christian McCaffrey if Jacobs went to the right team. But it rarely works like that.”

“It’s most likely he tests free agency and returns to the [Las Vegas] Raiders,” they acknowledged. Adding: “If Saquon Barkley leaves New York, the Giants might just look at Jacobs as a worthy replacement.”

“He’d certainly be more reliable than Barkley on the injury front,” Fox Sports went on. “Plus, Jacobs can be a touchdown machine on the ground. He has two seasons with 12 rushing touchdowns.”

Jacobs accumulated 2,000-plus scrimmage yards in 2022 and was recognized as a first-team All-Pro. He just turned 26 years old on February 11, having already achieved three 1,000-yard rushing campaigns since entering the league.

Would Giants Ditch Saquon Barkley for High-Paid RB Like Raiders’ Josh Jacobs?

If the Giants lose Barkley, few replacements would be as tantalizing as Jacobs. Having said that, signing him might defeat the purpose of letting Barkley walk.

Given his durability and age, Jacobs might actually earn more money than the Giants star on the open market. So, unless NYG general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll liked the Raiders ball carrier that much better than Barkley, why would they spend cap space on one and not the other?

It’d probably make more sense for Big Blue to pivot to a potential value signing, or an NFL draft candidate if they prefer to restart at the position altogether.

Ex-NFL LB Bart Scott Criticizes Giants for Treating Saquon Barkley ‘Like a Sidepiece’

The Giants’ treatment of Barkley isn’t personal, it’s smart business. Given how oversaturated the RB market is expected to be in 2024, it’s the wise choice to allow him to see his price tag for himself.

Despite that logic, former NFL linebacker Bart Scott had an interesting take regarding Barkley on ESPN’s Get Up (shared via Awful Announcing on X).

“No [franchise] tag,” Scott predicted when asked if Barkley would get tagged again. “Joe Schoen needs to just tell Saquon — ‘Listen man, we just not that into you.’ You’re out here treating Saquon like a sidepiece. They give him just enough to make him satisfied… They just waiting for a better, cheaper option.”

After some laughs from his co-panelists, Kimberley A. Martin admitted that it was actually a “great analogy” by Scott.

As of February 24, the Giants are not expected to franchise tag Barkley ahead of free agency. For what it’s worth, Fox Sports’ top landing spots for the NYG star were the Giants, Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.