Whither Saquan Barkley

Saquan Barkley has become one of the most polarizing players in recent Giants history. It is perplexing that he, along with Daniel Jones, should fall into this category as both players have represented the Giants well. Both on the field and off, both guys are representative of what most most fans look for in players on their team.

Barkley is now embroiled in a contract dispute with the Giants and there have been many comments related to this matter.

  • Positional value. RB is no longer a premium position in a passing league.
  • Barkley's contribution can be substantially replaced by a mid round pick.
  • Running backs have a high injury rate
  • Barkley and his agent misread the market and now must pay the consequences. Schoen is a tough negotiation and now has all the leverage.
  • Barkley would be a fool to not sign the tag. Look at Le'Veon Bell.
Let's take a look at each of these statements and counter them. Readers may agree or disagree but just request they be evaluated on merit.

Positional value. RB is no longer a premium position in a passing league.

  • He represented 30% of the Giants total offense last year and 40% of the teams touches.
  • In a league that values creating turnovers on defense and preventing turnovers on offense, he has 4 fumbles (1 lost) in 1,201 career touches.
  • He had 83 pass blocking snaps last season and allowed six pressures which was the best percentage in the NFL.
  • He tied for the team lead in receptions.

That seems to be a significant contribution to the Giants offense by a single player. Perhaps the idea that RB's are a singular group needs to be reconsidered and there are upper tiers that are significantly better.

Football also isn't the only sport that has evolved. Basketball was previously a big mans game and the idea was always to get higher percentage shots closer to the basket. But the three point shot is a large part of offensive strategy and big men are no longer considered as valuable as a generation ago. However, players such as Emblid, Jokic, A. Davis and Giannis (among others) are viewed differently from Rudy Gobert or Deondre Ayton. Same with baseball. Long gone are the days of Tom Seaver or Bob Gibson who would give you 280+ innings and 20 complete games routinely. Also gone are the days of Greg Maddux or Randy Johnson where you could count on 230 IP and 8-10 complete games annually. Now it's get through the lineup twice and we'll bring in series of RoboCop pitchers who will give us 1-2 IP every night. But teams still covet Cole or Verlander or deGrom because they are foundational pieces. Football is the only sport where star players (who are not QB's) are considered churn and depreciating assets.

Barkley's contribution can be substantially replaced by a mid round pick.

Every so often low round picks come in and play exceptionally well. Tom Brady, Cooper Kupp, Jason Kelce, George Kittle, Tyreek Hill, Stefan Diggs, Most guys come back to earth after the league has adjusted to them but others, like the guys listed previously have what it takes. For example, Matt Brieda in his second (age 23) season had 814 rushing yards (5.3 YPA) along with 24 receptions. He became a spot player by his age 24 season and the Giants are his 4th team in six year career. Looking to replace star players with middle round picks is not a sound strategy for building a roster. It's typically nothing but a short term fix.

Running backs have a high injury rate

Look at Giants recent WR’s. Steve Smith, Manningham, Nicks, Cruz, Rueben Randle, OBJ, Shep, Golladay. Not one had a good year after age 27. Most were cooked by 25.

The top WR's in 2019 as measured by receiving yards were Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Godwin, Davante Parker, Keenan Allen and Kenny Golladay. Thomas has less than 600 yards total since that year. Julio has not performed either but has aged out. Chris Godwin still get 1,000 yards but averaged 9.8 YPC last year. Devante Parker hasn't't contributed much and Keenan Allen has been steady although in decline. We all know about Kenny Golladay.

The top 3 rushers were Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb and CMC. Zeke, who is the poster boy for not giving a RB a contract, was 4th. Chis Carson, who was a 7th round find, was fifth although he hasn't shown much since year three. Josh Jacobs was 8th, Mixon 9th and Cook 10th. Saqaun battled through injuries and came in 16th. These guys actually have shown some staying power.

Zeke's APY after signing his extension was $15M. Michael Thomas was $19.5 before they restructured. Godwin is $20M. Again, we all know about Kenny Golladay. Yet WR's keep getting bigger and bigger contracts.

Barkley and his agent misread the market and now must pay the consequences. Schoen is a tough negotiation and now has all the leverage.

None of us know the details of any contract offer that was made. The APY has been leaked numerous times but no detains on guarantees or incentives. APY without guarantees has about the same value as a shoebox full of skeeball tickets. Without this information, it is difficult to determine whether either party was foolish or shrewd.

The "market" for football players doesn't make a great deal of sense. It really consists of the draft and free agency signings. The draft has proven itself to largely be a crapshoot. There are more stories about buyers remorse in free agency than great successes. Markets get overheated. Markets correct. Markets are very volatile. The idea that anyone really understands the market, whether financial or sports, isn't especially realistic.

Leverage is a very tricky thing in negotiations. It can be used as a blunt instrument which gets short term results but diminishes goodwill or it can be used to get truly desired short term results while increasing, or at least not hurting goodwill. This situation hasn't fully played out yet and we'll see how it ends up.

Barkley would be a fool to not sign the tag. Look at Le'Veon Bell.

In 2016 24 year old Le'Veon Bell had 336 touches in 12 games. This is after a season where he was limited to six games because of an MCL tear. In 2017, he had 406 touches. He didn't want to play on the tag in 2018 because he would bear the entire risk of injury or attrition as it was clear the Steelers would not hesitate to give him the ball as often as deemed necessary.

Last year Barkley had 352 touches and was banged up after 35 carries against the Texans. Daboll said he wouldn't hesitate to give him the ball 50 times if that's what it took to win. So Barkley should just accept that and play year to year for a team that is unwilling to give him a long term deal? Because they have offered him what they have unilaterally determined to be a "fair" deal?

That's being foolish? He's going to hopefully live another 50 years after his football career is over. All football players pay a physical price for the game they play. That is understood going in. But don't they want to end up like Earl Campbell, using a walker when he was 40. The extra money doesn't help him so much then. The Steelers had a great talent in Bell. They didn't want to pay him. He lost a significant amount of money and they haven't won a playoff game since. Both parties lost.

There is a human aspect to an inherently dangerous game that we all need to appreciate. As a player, Barkley made a great play on the 2 point conversion to win the game week one. He made a series of bruising runs to close out the game against Washington. He played QB during the game when Tyrod was hurt and Jones was banged up. They kept Jones in at WR so the plays could be sent in but Barkley took the snaps. He got low and plowed into the EZ through Dalvin Tomlinson. He consistently mades plays, some at important times that literally won games.

Barkley has been both a loyal and effective player for this franchise. The portrayals of him as selfish or just a spoke in the wheel is really bothersome. Understand the business aspect and Schoen is doing his job. No one will need to have a collection for Barkley. But he deserves more respect than tag him this year so we can discard him after he outlives his usefulness. If loyalty isn't a two way street than it doesn't exist.

FanPosts are written by community members. This is simply a way for community members to express opinions too long to be contained in a comment.