Former GM Reveals Hidden Benefit of Eagles’ Saquon Barkley Signing


Getty Images The Eagles signed Saquon Barkley early in free agency.

The Philadelphia Eagles are betting big that Saquon Barkley will boost an inconsistent running game and serve as a missing piece for a franchise that dropped five of its final six games to close out a disappointing 2023 campaign.

Barkley, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, arrives in Philadelphia with a career 4.3 yards per carry average with 47 total touchdowns and 7,311 yards from scrimmage through 74 games with the New York Giants.

However, as prolific as Barkley is in the ground game and as a receiver out of the backfield, former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum believes Barkley has the chance to have a significant impact not just on the Eagles’ run-game production but on quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Barkley will give Jalen Hurts a much better chance of getting through the season healthy,” Tannenbaum writes for ESPN, listing the Barkley signing as the most impactful across the league.  “Over the past three seasons, Hurts has run the ball 491 times, which is the most by any quarterback in that span.

“Those numbers take a toll, and he didn’t look the same at the end of last season. With a true elite runner in the backfield, there won’t be as much pressure on Hurts to run, which will potentially keep him healthy down the stretch.”

Jalen Hurts Looking to Rebound in 2024

Hurts played his way into the MVP conversation during the 2022 season but never quite shifted into gear in 2023.

Particularly troubling for the Eagles is that Hurts tossed just five touchdowns with five interceptions over a dreadful final six games of the 2023 campaign and was held to 250 passing yards with one touchdown in a blowout 32-9 NFC Wild Card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Adding Barkley into the Eagles’ backfield creates a safety valve for Hurts in the passing game, but for the first time in the Nick Sirianni era, Philadelphia boasts a legitimate bellcow at running back.

As Pro Football Focus points out, Barkley averaged 2.91 yards after contact last season but perhaps more importantly for the Eagles’, posted a 76.6 pass-blocking grade which should give Hurts more time in the pocket and limit some of the physical punishment he takes in addition to the hits sustained on the run.

James Franklin Clarifies Potential ‘Tampering’ Comments

Barkley, his college coach and mentor James Franklin, and the Eagles found themselves in the middle of an NFL firestorm and allegations general manager Howie Roseman communicated with the star running back directly before free agency which would have been tampering.

Following Penn State’s spring practice on March 19, Franklin addressed those allegations.

“I had a 10-minute conversation with Saquon, and I just assumed and connected dots that weren’t there,” Franklin told reporters. “All those conversations went through his agent.”

Franklin’s initial comments that raised eyebrows came in the aftermath of Barkley putting pen to paper on his $37.75 million contract.

“But for him now to come back and be able to play within the state, in Philadelphia,” Franklin told reporters at a press conference. “(Barkley) said that was one of the first things that Howie said to him on the phone as part of his sales pitch to him was not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that, but obviously the connection with Penn State and the fan bases as well.”

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