NFL Free Agency: Saquon Barkley could burn Giants by signing with their biggest NFC East rival

Could Giants running back head to an NFC East rival?
Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The New York Giants have an interesting decision ahead when it comes to two-time Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley.  Like last offseason, the Giants will have a choice between working on a long-term deal, placing the franchise tag on him, or letting him test the open market.  If it’s the latter, a few teams could be ready to open the check book, including an NFC East rival.

As the running back market has declined, Barkley was a player who was out to prove the position is still a value in the NFL.  The Giants running back rushed for 962 yards and six touchdowns in 2023 but averaged just 3.9 yards per carry.  It wasn’t the season Barkley wanted, but does that make him a player on the decline? 

NFL Rumors: New York Giants unlikely to place franchise tag on Saquon Barkley

If so and the Giants see him as a player losing a step, that could settle the question on whether the team will franchise him?  That would leave Barkley open to test the market, which doesn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t re-sign with the team that drafted him.  Unless of course, some team out there believes they can get him back to the 1,300-yard running back he was in 2022.

Still just 27 years old, Barkley could very well have a couple good, elite years left…if the right team, the right offense provide an opportunity for him to shine.

As Bleacher report’s Alex Ballentine wrote in his article labeling the top potential landing sports for Barkley, there will be a market and opportunities for the Giants pending free agent.

Ballentine writes:

“Looking across the league, his best landing spots are probably teams with a decent offensive line in place and an offense that is one or two pieces away from being dominant. Those teams might be able to afford the luxury of paying a top-of-the-market type deal to a running back.”

Giants decision could put this NFC East team over the top

Ballentine goes on to list some rather interesting teams, which include the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings.  Of those teams, the Ravens, Bengals and Texans stand out as franchises where Barkley could be a valuable contributor.  Each of those teams have solid offensive lines and quarterbacks who are amongst the elite.  But of the teams that know Barkley the best, the Cowboys, would add to the rival between the two NFC East squads.

With Tony Pollard set to hit free agency, the Cowboys could see Barkley as a solution and perhaps even an upgrade over the younger running back who failed to secure the lead back position after the team moved from Ezekiel Elliott.  Like Elliott, Barkley would be a dual-threat option for the Cowboys.  He can catch the ball out of the backfield and run for tough yardage.  The 3.9 yards per carry average from this past season didn’t stand out, but the Giants offense was limited and that along with suffering a high-ankle sprain limited Barkley a bit.

Could going to the Giants rival rejuvenate Barkley?  At this point, the Cowboys present a better situation and a chance to win, which could be the best revenge against his current team if they don’t find a way to keep him in a Giants uniform.