The New York Giants were open to dealing star running back Saquon Barkley this offseason only to find no takers for the former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Barkley, after a breakout season in 2018 and a gutty sophomore year in 2019, has fallen off the radar of elite backs in the league. A serious knee injury in 2020 and a lukewarm comeback season last year have softened the Penn State legend’s market to the point where the Giants were forced to retain him and his $7.2 million cap hit.

That may not be a bad thing, however. There are new coaches in town — ones that understand how to maximize the talents of their players. In Barkley’s case, that means lining him up as a receiver, where he’s always been effective.

“I think Saquon is that type of player that you want to be able to give him the ball and you want him to touch the ball as much as you can,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said this week at the team’s OTAs. “I think he’s dynamic out in space, and he’s done a good job in this camp here just being assignment sound, working on the fundamentals. Right now that’s what we’re looking for.

“I think as we start to understand our players, understand who we want to be on offense, I think we have a good plan and a good vision for what that is, but right now on the practice field is what’s kind of declaring it. So Saquon is a part of that as well as the rest of that running back room.”

Barkley was once a force in the running game, amassing 1,337 yard rushing as a rookie, an average of 5.0 yards per carry. In 2019, that dipped to 4.6.

In the 15 games he’s played the past two seasons, Barkley’s yard per carry average has plummeted to 3.4 yard per attempt. He’s no longer a viable handoff option so the new staff is seeking to capitalize on what Barkley still does well, and that is catching the football out of backfield or simply lining him up as a receiver.

Barkley can still contribute as a receiver. Last year, he caught 41 passes for 263 yards and two scores. Not quite as dynamic as in years past but still respectable.

By admin