7: 00 AM ET

  • Jordan RaananESPN Crew Creator

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Unusual York Giants working abet Saquon Barkley had true limped off the field in Week 5, his left ankle the measurement of a sea dash ball before he plopped on the discontinue of the bench at AT&T Stadium. The disgust from stepping on the foot of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis change into as soon as oozing from every pore.

Barkley change into as soon as pounding his thigh pads with his fists as if he change into as soon as trying to punch a hole in them. The conclusion the hurt would indicate extra time on the sideline whereas his teammates tried to fight out of an early-season hole change into as soon as too frustrating to preserve in.

Barkley had a high ankle sprain that marred his 2019 season and a torn ACL in his aesthetic knee that ended his 2020 season in Week 2. He had to know this most modern hurt would extra affect his skill to land a 2nd contract.

“What would battle through your guys’ minds in case you true rehabbed for 10 or 11 months to ranking abet on the field after which you got peril by rolling your ankle by stepping on somebody else’s foot?” Barkley acknowledged loads of days after the game. “You’re going to be irritated. You’re going to be exhausted. You’re human. I’m human.”

Posthaste-forward six weeks, and Barkley restful has no longer made it abet on the field. He has overlooked 18 of the previous 23 video games, and the Giants (3-6) are a long shot to form the playoffs heading into Monday night’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8: 15 ET, ESPN).

Barkley is anticipated to play against the Bucs (6-4), however his injuries have advanced the acknowledge to a looming query going throughout the group: Ought to restful they re-signal him to a long-time period extension?

The acknowledge as soon as regarded a formality. The 2018 season — when he completed with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, 15 touchdowns and change into as soon as named Offensive Rookie of the Yr — instructed greatness. Since his promising debut, he has totaled 1,860 yards from scrimmage over system of three hurt-riddled seasons.

“All of the things that I’d like to attain are restful accessible for me to attain. I are residing by that,” Barkley acknowledged. “There are going to be setbacks. There goes to be adversity, no longer true as a football player however in anything else you are making in lifestyles.

“Ultimate since potentialities are you’ll perchance well perchance also have a diminutive adversity or setbacks would not indicate it be crucial to begin taking note of the total noise. … Maintain working. Maintain religion, have perception that every the labor you’ve set in goes to reach to lifestyles.”

Accidents scurry away Giants in a plight

Barkley, the No. 2 general catch in the 2018 NFL draft out of Penn Utter, is in the fourth one year of his rookie deal making $4.7 million. The crew picked up the fifth-one year possibility in his contract abet in April, guaranteeing him $7.2 million for 2022. That remains an cheap quantity for a working abet of his skill, even with his hurt history.

Comparing Barkley to the eight working backs with the glorious average annual attach (AAV) in their contracts (all average a minimal of $12 million), he ranks fifth in scrimmage yards per sport (108.0) and yards per touch (5.4) for his career, based fully on ESPN Stats & Recordsdata.

The speak of affairs for Barkley is he has played the lowest share of his crew’s video games amongst that bunch at 63% (36 of a probable 57) and has averaged the 2nd-fewest video games per season (10.3) of any first-round working abet drafted from 2015 to 2020.

That would not even myth for the debate about whether working backs are rate a properly-organized salary when wholesome. Of the eight with the glorious AAV, only Alvin Kamara of the Unusual Orleans Saints and Carve Chubb of the Cleveland Browns have been on groups that received playoff video games since signing their affords, and none have been to a Big Bowl.

There are executives around the league who are adamant that investing tremendous money into the station will not be genuinely ideal for roster constructing. It be a “luxury” is how one personnel director described it currently. A luxury the Giants, with essential deficiencies alongside the offensive line and at edge rusher, arguably can’t manage to pay for. The ideal crew to utilize a Big Bowl with a extremely compensated working abet change into as soon as the Seattle Seahawks at some stage in the 2013 season with Marshawn Lynch.

It with out a doubt leaves the Giants, and perchance a brand contemporary general manager, in a plight. Barkley is the crew’s most explosive playmaker — when wholesome. That qualifier is excessive and relating.

Three of the four most modern and worn high-stage executives who’ve been asked by ESPN acknowledged they would no longer re-signal Barkley to a long-time period deal.

“I make no longer even know that I’d favor him. What’s the level?” one NFL executive acknowledged, pointing to the injuries and market attach he believes exists for a player with Barkley’s résumé. “I make no longer preserve it against him [personally]. But he hasn’t been on hand. For this reason you are making no longer make investments in the station.”

All three of the executives who acknowledged they would no longer give Barkley a long-time period deal most well-most popular the fifth-one year possibility and perchance the franchise trace in 2023 before cutting back their losses. The other believed in trying to signal him to a deal after the season (if he returns wholesome and finishes exact) whereas his attach is miserable.

But what’s the aesthetic attach?

Idea to be one of the essential executives instructed he would utilize his crew’s analytics division to uncover that. He acknowledged that might perchance well well almost with out a doubt be below the working abet’s expectations and his estimated market attach.

But that strategy would a minimal of allow the Giants to form an offer for Barkley to decline. In other words, extract as mighty production out of his body as skill before shifting on.

It be no longer that somebody dislikes Barkley as a player. It be Barkley’s long-time period potentialities that they ranking extra advanced to accept.

From a football level of view, there might perchance be plenty to love.

“I’d teach this, because he’s so explosive, including in the passing sport, I’d work no longer easy interior motive to preserve him,” worn NFL general manager and most modern ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum acknowledged on ESPN Radio. “In case you scurry abet to the Saints sport [in Week 4], he makes the one play in the game that adjustments it all. I’m no longer pronouncing he’s [Carolina’s Christian] McCaffrey, however most of the associated price — the Alvin Kamaras, the McCaffreys of the world — is they’ll make things in the passing sport, which is what Barkley can make.

“So in a supreme world, make no longer pay the working abet. I’m on board and ranking it. But I heart of attention on his personality, his work ethic and most essential — what he can make in the passing sport — I true heart of attention on he true places so mighty stress on an opposing crew’s protection.”

This dialogue will intensify at some stage in this one year and into subsequent season, assuming Barkley can give up wholesome. It be almost no longer easy to imagine here’s the attach it stands four years into the career of the player Giants general manager Dave Gettleman as soon as acknowledged change into as soon as “touched by the hand of God.”

A chance to level to his attach

The Giants restful imagine in Barkley. Gettleman change into as soon as as defiant this summer about him being the aesthetic catch at No. 2 general in 2018, despite the injuries.

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Stephania Bell, Field Yates and Matthew Berry focus on the health of Saquon Barkley and what to await if he performs against Tampa Bay.

Coach Joe Assume objects to the premise that this most modern hurt diminishes Barkley’s attach.

“I make no longer know that he’s [losing money]. I heart of attention on this hurt is getting blown fully out of percentage. This just will not be genuinely like his knee is flaring up and he can’t ranking over it. He’s previous that hurt. He stepped on a guy’s foot. It be a YMCA hurt,” Assume instructed ESPN. “This just will not be genuinely like, here’s a knee, now a hamstring. This hurt here’s a freak hurt. This to me is fully impartial of the total other stuff. I make no longer heart of attention on this places him in that neighborhood of the worrisome allotment of that.”

Talked about Barkley: “The total lot we would prefer to perform is restful accessible. [I need to] true strive to ranking abet wholesome as I will to head accessible and catch a stare upon to form a scurry at this thing in the 2nd half of the season.”

He took his eyes off his opponent for a millisecond six weeks ago in Dallas, and he’s restful struggling the penalties. It change into as soon as a low ankle sprain that did no longer heal as swiftly as anticipated.

Then a false obvious COVID-19 take a look at before the Giants played host to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 9 — aesthetic before their bye — change into as soon as any other setback as Barkley might perchance well well not discover most of that week. The Giants, taking into myth he had to shut down his body for a few days, weren’t going to risk putting him abet on the field after one discover.

That pushed Barkley’s return to Week 11. Monday night will be his first of eight last video games this season. They are frequently essential to his future in Unusual York.

“It be an incredible opportunity to level to who Saquon Barkley is through adversity,” Giants security Logan Ryan acknowledged. “He might perchance well well not have faced a ton in his career and I didn’t face plenty. Issues went my come because I labored no longer easy and intelligent. But [adversity] hits you, and it be an incredible opportunity to level to his attach when he will get abet.”

Barkley needs to give up on the field down the stretch to produce any hope his Tall Apple memoir will discontinue on a high cowl. Because to this level, the sideline scene in Dallas, when he change into as soon as pounding those superhuman thighs, appears to philosophize it all about the likelihood of landing a megadeal from the Giants.

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