Saquon Barkley’s future is still undecided. Though it’s not out of the question, the likelihood of him playing for the New York Giants again in 2024 seems to be growing.
The Giants could place the franchise tag on the former No. 2 overall pick for a second consecutive season, but that’s unlikely to please Barkley.
According to Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports, there’s a feeling that the couple is “headed for a divorce.”
Here are four potential landing spots for Barkley, given that the writing may be on the wall:
This season, the Bears finished second in the NFL in rushing, but their most productive runner was quarterback Justin Fields, who amassed a team-high 657 yards on the ground. Fields’ ability to create plays with his legs is something that no one wants to take away, but it’s not sustainable to come in just eight rush attempts behind leader Khalil Herbert (132).
On paper at least, the Bears would have an intimidating offense with Barkley joining a group that already included wide receiver D.J. Moore, regardless of whether they choose to use one of their two top-10 picks in April’s draft on a quarterback. Furthermore, the team can afford him, as reported by Over The Cap, as they have the eighth-highest amount in the NFL—an estimated $50.8 million—to spend on free agents this offseason.
Green Bay Packers
If the Packers decide to stay in the NFC North, they may also be interested in Barkley. The 29-year-old, frequently injured running back Aaron Jones will probably have to accept a pay decrease if he returns in 2024 (he is expected to earn $12 million), and 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon has shown himself to be merely a supporting player over the course of four seasons.
Despite playing behind the league’s most inexperienced offense, Packers quarterback Jordan Love had an incredible debut season as the starter and went on to become the team’s undeniable No. 1. Barkley can help the Packers, who are looking to be ahead of schedule, challenge the Lions for the top spot in the division. Barkley’s dynamic rushing ability and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield could be invaluable to Love’s development.
While the Texans offense was 12th overall in the NFL this season, they were only 22nd in terms of rushing. Five-year veteran Devin Singletary offered balance, starting the final nine games, but the team still lacks an elite playmaker in the backfield.
This autumn, Singletary had a career year, rushing for 898 yards after forcing second-year back Dameon Pierce to share RB1 responsibilities. Imagine what Barkley could accomplish with Nico Collins, Tank Dell, and dynamic quarterback CJ Stroud at wide receiver. The two-time Pro Bowler could be a desirable addition for the Texans, who like the Packers, may be trying to quicken the pace of their already largely successful rebuild.
The ultimate retaliation would be to drive south on the turnpike and join the Eagles if the Giants decide to part ways with Barkley. Moreover, it would be a return home for him, having played football at Whitehall High, an hour’s drive outside of Philadelphia, prior to his Penn State collegiate career.
The Eagles would also benefit from the move. Although D’Andre Swift had his first 1,000-yard season in his career this fall, he has seen limited playing time and will be a free agent at the end of the current campaign. The Eagles will need to find someone to run the ball behind arguably one of the best offensive lines in football since they only have one running back, Kenneth Gainwell, under contract through 2024, if Swift is traded. Barkley, why not?
Barkley would be a huge backfield upgrade for any of the aforementioned teams because he is still an extremely versatile back. The 26-year-old’shealthhas always been an issue, but he has participated in 43 out of 51 games since sustaining a torn ACL that ended his season in Week 2 of the 2020 campaign.
Barkley has performed well even on the unimpressive Giants squads. He has averaged almost 1,000 yards (956) per season between 2022 and 2023, along with eight touchdowns overall and 139 receptions (881 yards). Six quarterbacks, including Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Jake Fromm, Davis Webb, Tyrod Taylor, and Tommy DeVito, started for the Giants during that time.