Entering 2022, the New York Giants appeared to have a difficult, emotional decision — but an clear-cut one financially — concerning the second overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft: Have running back Saquon Barkley play out his fifth-year option on his rookie deal and then let him walk in free agency during the offseason. The 26-year-old looked like his wheels were falling off in the 2021 season, his first one back after missing the final 14 games of the 2020 season with a torn ACL.
The 2021 production was the lowest of his career: 856 scrimmage yards — his first year under 1,000 when playing at least 10 games — while shaking off the rust from the knee injury. That season couldn’t have been a stronger juxtaposition of what Barkley put on tape in his rookie season. He led the NFL in with 2,027 scrimmage yards in 2018, joining Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (1983) and Edgerrin James (1999) as the only rookies in NFL history with over 2,000 scrimmage yards. He followed that fast start year with another solid season — 1,443 scrimmage yards — in 2019.
Barkley shattered all expectations in 2022 Coach of the Year Brian Daboll’s first season in charge with 1,650 scrimmage yards, the second-most of his career besides his rookie year, ranking seventh in the entire NFL. All due respect to 2022 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Geno Smith, who bounced back from being a career back-up until playing like a top-five quarterback this past season, but that award belonged to Barkley for putting the washed up allegations to rest. One of the more impressive factors of his bounce-back season is that opposing defenses were going out of their way to shut him down considering the Giants’ receiving yards leaders were all players who were selected in the fifth round or later of the NFL Draft: Darius Slayton (724 receiving yards), Richie James (569 receiving yards), and Isaiah Hodgins (351 receiving…
Source link : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/saquon-barkley-2023-nfl-free-agency-return-to-giants-move-to-afc-east-among-top-landing-spots/
Author : Garrett Podell
Publish date : 2023-03-03 14:03:33
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