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Big Blue View mailbag: Saquon Barkley scenarios, 2022 expectations, more

The mail’s here!

Let’s help you pass the time as you count the minutes before the New York Giants open the 2022 NFL season on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. How? Well, by opening the Big Blue View Mailbag, of course.

Jason Stoll asks: We have essentially arrived at the start of the 2022 regular season and thus time for final regular season projections. From where I sit, the team looks poised to once again win less than 5 games. Although there has been no definitive word, it seems as likely as not that neither Thibodeaux nor Ojulari will be healthy enough to play Week 1, and perhaps not for multiple weeks to come? It seems especially likely that Ojulari is doomed to a lost sophomore campaign after suffering back-to-back lower leg injuries. Hard to imagine Aaron Robinson holding up, especially if there is no pass rush in the early going. Once the opposing 1’s are playing our defense, especially early on without a pass rush, should that come to pass, boatloads of surrendered points appear in the offing. Offensively, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a receiving corps (WR’s and TE’s) as untalented as the one heading into this year, a legacy from the former regime. I can’t see Kenny Golladay contributing at all since he no longer seems capable of running. Toney once again missed almost the entirety of the preseason with injuries; will he be available on a regular basis during the season? That leaves Robinson, a 5’8 rookie, and a cadre of perennial practice squad players. As for TE’s, there is the rookie Bellinger and then a couple of trash heap guys. Really, a whole lot of nothing. And of course there is Barkley who might go crazy in a positive way, but could just as easily suffer his fourth straight season of debilitating injury. I know you wrote the other day that during preseason the Giants amassed 25 ppg, but they did it against seconds only. When you look at this team with cold objectivity, this looks very much like Year 1 of a multi-year rebuild. Next draft they take the QB Schoen and Daboll believe could be “the guy”, and starting 2024 we are hoping to be competitive. Is this how you see things? Are you in the 5-12 camp or worse, or are you fantasizing about wins in the 7-10 range given the ostensible weakness of the schedule?

Ed says: Jason, I’m not nearly as negative as you are. Then again, I don’t want to make it sound like everything is sunshine and rainbows with the Giants.

I’m not fantasizing about anything. Well, maybe I fantasize about some things but none of them have anything to do with the Giants. I cover them for a living and I try to look at them as objectively as I possibly can.

I’m in wait and see mode. When I had ex-Giant Brandon London on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast he said he compared his feelings about the 2022 Giants to just driving down the middle of the road, obeying the speed limit and seeing what happened — good or bad.

I don’t know how good — or bad — the Giants will be. What I do know is that with Joe Schoen as GM I feel better about the long-term success of the franchise than I have in a while.

Maybe they win four games. Maybe they win nine. I’m just going to enjoy the ride, and bring you the best coverage of it that I possibly can.


TWO Barkley questions. I will give ONE answer below. Jacob, David I hope this touches on what both of you are looking for.

Jacob Willett asks: I might be a blind optimist but I’m predicting that Saquon has All Pro type year this year. If that happens is it really a bad idea to give him an extension? There is strong likelihood that Schoen is going to want to draft his franchise QB in the next 2 years which would mean they have a QB on a cost controlled contract for 4-5 years. Saquon’s contract could even be front loaded to have the big cap years be before they have to potentially pay Thomas, McKinney, and Toney. He seems like a teammate and pro you would want around a potential young QB as he starts his career in NY.

David Matuozzi asks: Many fans believe that no matter how Saquon performs this year, it will be his last in Giants blue. They believe that if he does poorly the team will move on to someone better. But if he returns to form, he will demand an enormous contract that the Giants new regime will refuse to pay.

My question is, how accurate is the latter characterization? Giants fans can’t be the only people who have noticed how badly contracts like the ones given to Zeke Elliot and Christian McCaffrey have aged. Is it possible that salaries at the top of the running back market have dropped from that point, perhaps to a price the Giants might be willing to pay to keep Saquon?

Ed says: I have said before that I also think Saquon Barkley is headed for a good season. Provided, of course, he stays healthy. All-Pro or equal to 2018 I think is overly optimistic, but I do think he is going to remind everyone that he is a terrific player.

There are a great many scenarios for how things could work out with Barkley. I do believe that if the Giants move on from Daniel Jones and draft a rookie quarterback that increases Barkley’s odds of remaining with the Giants for at least a couple more years.

If you don’t franchise tag Jones at a projected 2023 cost of $31.497 million or sign him to a long-term deal, you can draft a quarterback and have him on a less expensive rookie deal for four or five years. You could possibly then franchise tag Barkley at an estimated cost of $12.696 million, something that would be palatable to me for a 26-year-old running back coming off a good year.

No matter what, I think Schoen’s instinct and his training will make him loathe to want to give Barkley a big money deal. See Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley for Exhibit A as to why. If there is a middle ground, and that depends largely on Barkley’s health and what kind of contract he ultimately asks for, that might be worth exploring. But, running backs do not get better with age and giving a big-money second contract to a running back with a history of leg injuries is bad business.

What happens with Barkley is, I think, going to have as much to do with ownership as it is with Schoen. John Mara watched the situation with Odell Beckham, a player he did not want to lose, implode. If he watches the Giants move on from Jones, that will be another painful blow for the co-owner.

If Barkley stays healthy for the next couple of years and gives the Giants a reason to keep him, I think Mara is going to push for a way to make that happen.

I think the Giants are going to push that decision off as long as they can. If I had to guess today I think they tag Barkley next year and kick the can on a long-term decision until the 2024 season.


Greg Gill asks: What are the plans to protect Daniel Jones this year in the pocket? This quarterback has potential if you can get him some more time in the pocket. I understand injuries have been crippling but has the second string been practicing at all. I’m a fan since the ‘80s and will always be a fan proudly wearing my Big Blue.

Ed says: Greg, just look at the roster. The draft. Free agency. They drafted Evan Neal No. 7 overall, and with Neal and Andrew Thomas now have a pair of young bookend tackles to build around that should make the majority of NFL teams envious.

The biggest free agent splurge (the only one) the Giants made in the offseason was to sign Mark Glowinski, a solid veteran starter at right guard. They signed Jon Feliciano to play center. They drafted Joshua Ezeudu in Round 3 and Marcus McKethan, who is on season-ending IR, in Round 5.

The Giants have picked up two linemen via waiver claims to add depth — Jack Anderson and Tyre Phillips.

The Giants also have new offensive line coaches in Bobby Johnson and Tony Sparano Jr. Considering the limited resources they had — and still have — at their disposal they have done about as much as they possibly could have.

There is more to do, but this current iteration of the offensive line should be improved over the one the Giants fielded a season go.


Bob Donnelly asks: As I look at the Giants roster one thing that jumps out to me is the experience level. 30 players have two or fewer years of NFL experience including 10 rookies.

How concerned are you with this overall lack of experience?

Ed says: Concerned? I’m not concerned at all. Not a little bit. Not an iota.

For what it’s worth, Bookies.com came out this week with the average ages of every NFL roster. The Giants average age is 26 years, 1 month, 14 days. That is the 11th-youngest roster in the 32-team NFL.

Going young wherever possible is the absolute 100 percent correct approach. The Giants are not competing to win a championship in 2022. You don’t build with older players past their primes. You build with younger ones you think might have bright futures and could become part of the longer-term solution.

I keep saying this, but the decisions the Giants are making are not really about 2022. They are about 2023 and beyond. Yes, Schoen has said repeatedly that he wants to be as competitive as possible in 2022. He has not, though, added any veterans on bad contracts to try and make that happen. He has filled in gaps on low-cost, one-year deals as he tries to straighten out the cap, identify a young core and figure out what the Giants need to do at quarterback.

So, no, I’m not concerned about lack of experience. If they deserve to play I want to see those young guys get on the field and get that experience. I don’t want to see veterans who won’t be Giants in a year — like Logan Ryan and Blake Martinez — standing in their way.


Jim Jordan asks: When players are claimed off waivers, or signed from another team’s practice squad (such as the Saints signing Wyatt Davis), does the team need to commit to keeping the player on their 53-man roster for any length of time? Or could the Saint cut Davis tomorrow, pay him a week’s salary and then sign him to their practice squad?

Ed says: Jim, that is a valid question. Here is what the Collective Bargaining Agreement says:

If a player on the Practice Squad of one club (Club A) signs an NFL Player Contract with another club (Club B), (1) the player shall receive three weeks salary of his NFL Player Contract at the 53-player Active/Inactive List minimum even if he is terminated by Club B prior to earning that amount, and (2) Club B is required to count the player on its 53-player Active/Inactive List for three games (a bye week counts as a game) even if he is terminated, traded, or assigned via waivers to another club or is signed as a free agent to another club’s 53-player roster or another club’s Practice Squad prior to that time. If the player is terminated from Club B’s 53-player roster and signed to Club B’s Practice Squad, he shall continue to count on the club’s 53-player Active/Inactive List but shall not count against the twelve or fourteen-player Practice Squad limit, as applicable, until the three-game requirement has been fulfilled. If a player is terminated prior to the completion of the three-game period and is signed to Club B’s Practice Squad or is signed or assigned to another Club’s 53-player roster or Practice Squad, any Salary (as that term is defined in Article 13, Section 4 that he receives from any NFL club applicable to the three-game period shall be an offset against the three weeks’ Salary that he is entitled to receive from Club B. If the promotion occurs with fewer than three games remaining in the Club’s regular season, the three game requirement for roster count shall not carry over into the next season.

Basically, the player is protected from a scenario like the one you describe. The claiming team has to put him on the 53-man roster and KEEP HIM THERE for three weeks. So, in this case, the New Orleans Saints are committed to Davis for at least the first three games of the season.