The roster-building season is upon us, and in the coming weeks, NFL teams will begin trimming the fat off their roster, making decisions on free agents, and drafting to fill needs.
As the New York Giants, coming off a disappointing 6-11 season, head into the third off-season under general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, each decision they end up making will come under even more scrutiny than ever before.
Once the Giants get their cap situation in order, New York will turn to free agency when the new league year begins on March 13. And one huge decision the Giants need to make involves running back Saquon Barkley.
Both Barkley and the Giants have been forthcoming with their desire to work something out for the long term, but as we saw last year, that didn't come to fruition, as Barkley ended up signing a modified one-year franchise tag.
But where the Giants could afford to carry Barkley on the tag last year, this year is a different story. Tagging him a second year in a row will cost approximately $12.1 million, a price they don’t want him at.
The Giants' options, then, are to put the tag on him with a deadline for a deal to be worked out, which, if not reached, will result in a tag-and-trade, or let an untagged Barkley shop his services with the understanding of giving the Giants a chance to match whatever offer he might receive.
Either way, it sounds like the Giants potentially have to prepare for life without Barkley, and his production, while not the same as what he posted in 2022, was still decent enough in that he put up 1,200 all-purpose yards and ten touchdowns.
If Barkley moves on, the Giants will need a solid running back to complement a group that currently includes Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray, and Jashaun Corbin as the only running backs under contract.
One such prospect, as suggested by Pro Football Focus, to fill the gap if Barkley leaves is Eagles running back D'Andre Swift, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade last season from the Detroit Lions.
"Swift showed growth in 2023, hitting the designed hole and not trying to bounce outside too often — an area Barkley has similarly improved in over the years — and offers pass-catching ability, as well,” PFF noted in its matching of Swift to the Giants.
Swift had a solid year for the Eagles, rushing for 1,049 yards and five touchdowns while adding 39 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown through the air. Swift looked to be dominant in the early parts of the season, rushing for 175 and 130 yards in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. He didn’t rush for 100 yards in a game for the remainder of the season, the closest being 92 yards against the Giants on Christmas Day.
PFF compared Swift to David Montgomery, who became a huge part of the Lions’ rushing attack in 2023, along with rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. Montgomery rushed for 1,015 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry, the same amount Swift averaged for the Eagles.
If the Giants and Barkley can't agree on a new deal, Swift, according to Spotrac, could come in at around $6.7 APY. He just turned 25, so he’d be two years younger than Barkley. While a little shorter than Barkley--he stands at 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds to Barkley's 6-foot and 232-pound frame--Swift isn't as elusive or shifty but could still be a nice option for the Giants if Barkley goes elsewhere. Plus, it would hurt the Eagles depth.
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