The Seattle Seahawks are a potential landing spot for one of the top running backs in the league.
As New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley enters free agency for the first time, there won’t be any shortage of interested suitors in the two-time Pro Bowl running back. According to betting odds from BetOnline, the Seahawks are one of the teams mentioned as betting favorites for Barkley if he does leave the Giants.
Seattle is currently listed as having 10-to-1 odds of landing Barkley, according to Jaime Eisner of The Draft Network:
“Where will Saquon Barkley sign IF he leaves the #NYGiants? (Odds via @betonline_ag):
Ravens (+400) Bills (+425) Broncos (+500) Jets (+600) Patriots (+700) Cowboys (+750) Chiefs (+800) Panthers (+900) Saints (+900) Bears (10/1) Seahawks (10/1) Cardinals (14/1)”
Saquon Barkley Re-Emerges as Elite Back in 2022
The 25-year-old Barkley is coming off of a resurgent campaign after dealing with injuries and inconsistent play over the past two seasons. Barkley ran for 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in addition to 57 receptions for 338 receiving yards. His number of receptions actually ranked seventh in the league among running backs.
Barkley’s Pro Bowl campaign was one of the main reasons why the Giants emerged as a surprise contender, clinching their first playoff berth since the 2016 season and winning their first playoff game since the 2011 season, when they won Super Bowl XLVI.
According to Pro Football Focus, Barkley posted an 81.1 rushing grade during the 2022 season, ranking 15th among all running backs with at least 200 snaps.
While there’s little doubt Barkley is one of the best running backs in the league, the question is, would the Seahawks even be interested?
Seattle currently features rookie Kenneth Walker as its starting running back and he’s coming off of a superb first-year campaign. According to PFF, Walker posted an even better rushing grade than Barkley during the 2022 season (83.5 grade).
The 22-year-old Walker ran for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry after taking over the starting running back job following Rashaad Penny’s season-ending injury suffered back in October. Walker’s rushing yards ranked 12th in the league and led all 2022 draftees.
His performance during his debut season makes him the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award.
Perhaps most importantly, Walker’s contract is a bargain considering he was a second-round draft pick. He’s due to earn just $8.4 million across four seasons, with his 2023 cap hit being $1.9 million — ranking 27th among all running backs.
Why Seahawks Won’t Land Saquon Barkley
According to Spotrac, Barkley’s market value is $12.3 million per season across four years for a total of $49 million. That would make Barkley the sixth-highest paid back in the league.
With that being said, the Seahawks do possess tons of cap space entering the 2023 offseason. Before making any moves this offseason, Seattle will have over $31 million in available cap space, the eighth-best figure in the league.
Historically speaking, the Seahawks have relied heavily upon the running game in the Pete Carroll era. In fact, they relied less on the running game in 2022 with Geno Smith at quarterback compared to previous seasons. Despite ranking seventh in the league in rushing yards per attempt, Seattle ranked 22nd in attempts and 18th in rushing yards.
Between 2018 and 2021, the Seahawks never ranked lower than 12th in rushing yards.
Because of Carroll’s penchant for relying on the running game, Seattle could make a play for Barkley as a one-two punch with Walker. However, it seems like an unlikely scenario given that Barkley would likely want to be the de facto running back on any team he’s on. In Seattle, that wouldn’t be the case — he would be splitting duties with Walker.
Secondly, if the Seahawks wants to go back to relying heavily upon their running game for the 2023 season, they could always use secondary backs such as DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer or even Penny — who will be a free agent this offseason — for the role. Those are much cheaper options than paying big money for an elite running back the team just does not need.
As nice as it would be to see Barkley in a Seahawks uniform, don’t bank on it for the 2023 season.