Penn State Football

Saquon Barkley Rumored FA Destination May Finally Unlock His Potential

Saquon Barkley has languished through the first six years of his NFL career, battling injuries while enjoying just one winning season since being chosen No. 2 overall by the New York Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft. That might be about to change.

Barkley, 26, is set to become an unrestricted free agent one year removed from the Giants applying the franchise tag on him last offseason but there is a legitimate chance he winds up signing elsewhere when the NFL’s new league year begins in March.

“I do think that Saquon Barkley is going to be at the top of [Jim Harbaugh]’s list,” Ryan Leaf said, during an appearance on Good Morning Football.

Signing with the Chargers would allow Barkley the opportunity to catch passes from one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the league, Justin Herbert, while playing for a head coach in Jim Harbaugh who is intimately familiar with his skill-set.

Through his first six seasons, Barkley has caught 288 passes for 2,100 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns, despite seeing more than 75 targets only twice thus far in his career.

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Given his versatility, Barkley could be tailor-made to thrive in a Chargers offense that already includes Herbert and field stretching wide receivers Keenan Allen, Quentin Johnston, and Mike Williams.

But, it’s Barkley’s explosiveness out of the backfield that could pique Harbaugh’s interest the most, Leaf believes.

“In terms of what he wants to do,” Leaf explained. “At the running back position, with him being a free agent. I know it’s a lot of money, but I know it’s something Jim Harbaugh wants to do, and he wants to use those [receivers] down the field with play-action.”

It would take some serious salary cap gymnastics for the Chargers to be able to afford Barkley, however.

Los Angeles is currently projected to be just over $44 million over the salary cap this offseason.

However, if Barkley is a top priority, Harbaugh putting his fingerprints on the roster by moving on from costly veterans and restructuring the contracts of others could create enough spending flexibility to make a splash.

Saquon Barkley Facing Frustrating Free Agency

After rushing for 5,211 yards and 35 touchdowns thus far in his career, Barkley admits, in an interview with Complex, that this is the first time that he’s truly believed he’ll be playing anywhere else other than New York.

“Yeah, I mean it never crossed my mind until last year after I got tagged,” Barkley said, of the possibility of winding up on a different team. “Up until that moment, I really believe that I was gonna finish my career as a New York Giant. You know, that was a goal of mine. And that’s still in play. I have so much respect for the Mara family and the Tisch family and everyone in the Giants organization.

“They know that but once you get to this point, you go to your contract negotiation and you go through the tag process, you realize how much of a business it is. And I remember vets always telling me this and you know I believed them, but you don’t really know something until you go through it. So could I see myself in another uniform? Yeah, it’s possible.”

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