The New York Giants have a decision to make on star running back Saquon Barkley. Should they pick up the fifth-year option on his contract and offer him an extension?
Based on Barkley’s ability alone, this would be a no-brainer. When healthy, Barkley proved to be quite the find. During his rookie season in 2018, he led the NFL with 2,028 total yards. He also ranked second with 1,307 rushing yards and was fourth among running backs with 721 receiving yards.
Basically, there was no containing the man.
But he appeared in just two games this past season after he tore his ACL in Week 2. He also sprained his ankle and missed three games in a good-but-not-great second season in 2019.
Anyway, the ACL is the biggest concern, because that can impact everything he does — including run. The data also shows that Barkley was basically average in his second year, according to Lucas Ellinas of Pro Football Network, and playing on the injured ankle in Year 2 didn’t help matters.
“Since injuries in the last two seasons have so heavily impacted Barkley’s statistics, it’s worth looking at his play from a different angle,” Ellinas wrote. “The Offensive Value Metric (OVM) is perfect for situations like this one. It is a grading system created by the (Bx) Movement to measure players based on how efficiently they produced their statistics.
“In Barkley’s case, the data is somewhat mixed. He didn’t play enough snaps last season to qualify for an overall grade, so let’s examine his first two NFL seasons. His grade from his rookie season was 15.59, fairly average for a running back. However, it dropped the following year significantly. At 11.31, it ranked in the bottom half of the league.”
Granted, Barkley’s decision to try to play through the ankle injury may have played a role in his so-so OVM in his second season. “That said, it’s never an encouraging sign to see a player regress after a year in the NFL,” Ellinas wrote.
So where do the Giants go with Barkley from here? The easy answer is to take a wait-and-see approach. They have an entire offseason to figure it out, monitor his progress and make a decision. They need a running back, and at his best, Barkley is one whale of one.