Giants: Can Saquon Barkley build on a strong 2022 season?

It was a strong showing in 2022 for one of the more talented running backs in the NFL. Will Saquon Barkley be an even bigger factor for the Giants in 2023?

The 2023 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen has 10 selections at his disposal, starting with the 25th overall pick. However, arguably the team’s best player is currently not under contract.

That’s because the club gave running back Saquon Barkley the “franchise” tag this offseason and perhaps would like to eventually sign him to a long-term deal. The former Penn State standout was the second overall pick in 2018 and enjoyed a big debut campaign, leading the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (2,028) and earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Then came the injuries. After starting every game in his first season, Barkley would miss a combined 21 contests over the next three years. However, he bounced back in a big way in 2022, in what was the final year of his rookie contract. The workhorse performer finished with career highs in carries (295) and rushing yards (1,312). The ex-Nittany Lion ran for 10 scores and tied for the team lead with 57 receptions.

Barkley sat out the regular-season finale vs. the Eagles and was fresh for the team’s playoff clash at Minnesota. He ran nine times for 53 yards and two scores and caught five passes for 56 yards in the Giants’ 31-24 victory. A week later, Brian Daboll’s team was humbled by Philadelphia for the third time in 2022. So how did he feel about this past season?

“It’s hard because the end goal wasn’t accomplished,” said the five-year pro recently (via Keith Croller of The Morning Call). “You strive to win a Super Bowl and obviously we came up short in the division and in the playoffs and who we lost to definitely didn’t help either with it being Philly.”

Now it’s 2023. Schoen has been busy retooling the roster and the club has those aforementioned picks in the draft. As for a contract with the team?

“It’s still April,” explained Barkley. “I haven’t had conversations with Joe (Schoen) too much. So, the best way I can handle it is to keep working. Whatever happens, happens. There are things I can’t really control right now. All I can control is how I will wake up every morning and stay with my goals and my passion.

Even though I may not be with the team right now and not in the building, I don’t think anyone with the Giants is concerned about my work ethic and my teammates aren’t worried about how I’m preparing.”

It’s just a matter of time before the Giants get Saquon Barkley under contract, at least for the 2023 season. As has been seen, health is the only thing that has slowed down this talented performer.