Giants general manager Joe Schoen told reporters Monday, after New York’s season-ending defeat in the NFC divisional-round, the organization hoped to keep impending free-agent running back Saquon Barkley.
Barkley, 25, just concluded his rookie contract and fifth-year option and is set to hit the open market for the first time in his career. He’s also coming off the most impressive campaign since he won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, earning his second Pro Bowl nod and first since that season. A major reason is that he remained healthy after missing time due to injury the previous three seasons. Helping the Giants to the NFL playoffs, Barkley rushed for a career-high 1,312 yards en route to nearly 1,700 total yards of offense.
“Saquon is a good player and a great teammate,” Schoen told reporters Monday, per the team. “We would like to have Saquon back, if it works out.”
The “if it works out” contingency likely relates to the money and term Barkley seeks in free agency. It’s very likely the Giants give their 2018 No. 2 overall pick the second contract he desires, but it’s also possible New York tries to fill his position, now viewed as a replaceable one, with a cheaper option. They have multiple areas where they could stand to improve.
With that said, we highlighted five landing spots for Barkley with oddsmakers at Bookies.com offering their insights on prices and probability for his next team. Of note, the odds listed by Bookies.com’s Adam Thompson are not available at a sportsbook.
New York Giants (-250, 71.4% probability)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Barkley returning to New York as the most likely outcome. It makes the most sense. After all, the Giants didn’t have many offensive weapons for quarterback Daniel Jones, an impending free agent himself, and letting their only one walk while getting nothing in return wouldn’t be great management of an asset. Barkley himself told reporters he would like to return to the G-Men, too.
Miami Dolphins (+750, 11.8%)
The Dolphins don’t have a single running back under contract for the 2023-24 campaign. All their running backs this past season — Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed — all are scheduled to hit free agency. The addition of Barkley not only would help the Dolphins fill a position of need but would give head coach Mike McDaniel another weapon to complement the Tua Tagovailoa-led passing game. Imagine defenses having to account for Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Barkley? It would be incredibly difficult.
Buffalo Bills (The Field +1400; 6.7%)
The Josh Allen-led passing game hasn’t got it done for the Bills when the calendar turns to playoff time. Perhaps it’s time for the pass-first offense to gain a significantly better complement. Additionally, Buffalo’s leading rusher, Devin Singletary, is set to hit free agency himself. While the Bills should have some confidence in 2022 second-round running back James Cook, Barkley undoubtedly would lift that position group and overall offense. It feels like a drastic move the Bills might be intrigued by given how their past two postseason runs have ended. Barkley would, once again, cause the Bills to be among the favorites to win a Super Bowl in a competitive AFC.
Denver Broncos (The Field +1400; 6.7%)
Should the Broncos add Barkley to their offense, they would have arguably the league’s best backfield tandem alongside Javonte Williams. Williams was expected to take a massive leap this past season but was injured just four games into the campaign. The 2021 second-round pick is believed to return to health this season, but as Barkley himself has shown in the past, running backs don’t always excel in the first season after an ACL injury. Perhaps Denver’s new ownership group and coaching staff want to ensure they don’t waste another year of Russell Wilson, thus adding a running back to complement the offense?
Chicago Bears (+1000, 9.1%)
Justin Fields needs weapons, right? Leading rusher David Montgomery is set to hit free agency when the new league year begins. Sure, he might be a bit cheaper to retain and his familiarity is notable, but might Chicago look to upgrade the position? The addition of Barkley, much like Denver, would give Chicago a dynamic tandem with Khalil Herbert, a sixth-rounder in 2021 who has impressed when given the opportunity. And nobody has more cap space this offseason than Chicago.