On Monday 4 PM ET. The deadline came and went, and the New York Giants were unable to accept a new contract with star running back Saquon Barkley. This means they won’t be able to reach a new deal until after the 2023 season.
The impasse between the two parties was the guaranteed money for this season and the next season. It was reported that New York was willing to give Barkley $19.5 million guaranteed for the next two seasons. However, Barkley and his representatives didn’t see that as a viable offer considering the 26-year-old running back will earn $10.1 million this season if he franchise-tags, and $12.1 million next year if the Giants re-tag him.
The ball is now in Barkley’s court. He is expected sit out all or most of the training ground. The earliest you are likely to see him would be shortly after the Giants’ last preseason game against the New York Jets on August 26he. There’s also the possibility that the star running back will sit out for the season as previously threatened.
So now the question is, how does New York get on without the man who was responsible for 27.73% of their offense a season ago? General manager Joe Schoen knew for months that there was a chance he couldn’t come to terms with his Pro Bowl running back, and he appears to have two plans for replacing Barkley.
Eric Gray moves up to No. 1 on New York Giants depth chart
with the 172North Dakota overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Schoen selected Eric Gray out of the University of Oklahoma. As a senior in college, Gray rushed for 1,366 yards on 213 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. He also showed his versatility as a pass catcher after hauling 33 receptions for 229 yards.
In college, he returned punts and kickoffs and the idea was that he could resume those responsibilities in his first year with the Big Blue. However, with the latest development regarding Barkley, Gray could take on a new role and that is number one on the running backs depth chart.
Shortly after being drafted, Gray was asked what he could bring to the team.
“I will do whatever it takes for the team. I am a ‘we’, not a ‘me’. I will do whatever it takes for the team,” Gray replied.
The team likes what it sees in Gray and is confident he can have a successful NFL career. We’ve seen late-round rookie running backs enter the league and find immediate success, like Isiah Pacheco with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. He led the team in rushing with 830 yards. Perhaps the New York Giants and Eric Gray can have similar success.
Gray and the rest of the rookies will report to camp on Tuesday. The 23-year-old rookie running back will see plenty of action to make sure he has a full understanding of the offense. The rest of the team will then report to camp on Wednesday, July 26.
Running backwards by committee approach
In addition to Gray, veterans Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell will see more iterations with the first-team offense following Barkley’s absence. Both played sparingly last season. Breida carried the ball 54 times for 220 yards and a touchdown. Brightwell rushed the ball 31 times for 141 yards and a touchdown.
These two will be ready for bigger roles and will participate in a running back role on my committee if that’s what head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have in mind.
During his four seasons as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator (2018-2021), Daboll never had a running back carry the ball more than 188 times during the regular season. That’s a stark contrast to the 295 times Barkley carried the ball a season ago.
Don’t be surprised if the 48-year-old head coach reverts to the same strategy he used when he was with Buffalo and splits the carries between Gray, Breida and Brightwell.