5 Saquon Barkley Landing Spots Emerge as Free Agency Nears

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5 Saquon Barkley Landing Spots Emerge as Free Agency Nears

We’ve all heard the expression “Champions pay the price”.  That mantra is true of course unless you’re an NFL running back , such as Saquon Barkley these days. 

In a continued depressed market at the position it’ll be interesting to see which team steps up and backs up the truck for a star back because there is a veritable plethora of them to choose from as free agency is just a few days away.  But just how important it is for a team to carry a franchise running back with a high end tax bracket varies, depending on who you ask. 

 The San Francisco 49ers decided it was worth it to acquire Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers last season for a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round pick last year and a 5th round pick in next month’s draft, and then awarded him with the highest paying running back contract in the league before he even took a snap in San Francisco.  Did it work? Well, an argument can be made that over 2,000 all-purpose yards along with 21 touchdowns, not including the one he scored in last month’s Super Bowl, and being an MVP finalist, would be a decent R.O.I.

Of course we know the 49ers didn’t win it.  The Kansas City Chiefs did for the second year in a row and third time in the last four years.  Patrick Mahomes aside, the Chiefs did it the last two seasons with a lead back that was a 7th round pick from Rutgers in Isiah Pacheco.  

So how much is a top NFL running back worth and which teams are willing to pay that price remains to be seen.

The Titans’ Derrick Henry, the Raiders Josh Jacobs, the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard, the Packers’ A.J. Dillon, the Eagles’ D’Andre Swift, the Colts’ Zack Moss, the Chargers’ Austin Ekeler and Houston’s Devin Singletary are all slated to hit the free agent market on March 13.  That’s certainly a staggering who’s-who at the much devalued running back position.

But pound for pound the best in show not listed above has to be the Giants’ Saquon Barkley. 

According to some analytics, the former Penn State star is now entering the “downside” of his career as statistically NFL running backs start to slide after the age of 26.  Barkley turned 27 last month.  He’s also had a notable injury history.  

The second overall pick by New York in 2018 put up career high numbers two seasons ago by rushing for 1312 yards, scoring 10 TDs and catching 57 passes for 338 yards.  The only other season that Barkley was completely healthy  was his rookie season when he rushed for 1307 yards and 11 touchdowns.  He missed three games due to a high ankle sprain last year and still almost rushed for a thousand yards, falling just short with 962.  Keep in mind he’s been playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league since his rookie season.

Count on Barkley to be looking for something in the Jonathon Taylor range.  The Colts gave their star back a three year extension worth $42 million early last season making him the third highest paid running back in the league, earning $14 million per year.  But for many teams in need of a stud back that price tag doesn’t fit with their business model. 

Here are a few of the top spots where Saquon Barkley could land making it a great fit for all parties.


As I opined last week, I still believe that the Texans are an ideal suitor to land the 6th year, two-time Pro Bowler. 

Last year the Texans were the surprise feel good story of the league.  They landed the Rookie of the Year in C.J. Stroud and punched their ticket to the playoffs under first year Head Coach DeMeco Ryans. 

Unfortunately Houston’s ground game fell short ranking 29th in the league in yards per carry (3.71).  Moreover, Devin Singletary is set to become a free agent after taking over for Dameon Pierce as the lead option, and the Texans have $70 million in cap space. 

Barkley would bring a home run threat to the lone star state and he could also shoulder a heavy load in the passing game.  The infrastructure is in place to be a very successful organization for years to come and the Texans have the money right now because their franchise quarterback still has four years left on his rookie deal.



With the Chicago Bears poised to draft their “next” franchise quarterback with the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft and possibly a number two wideout to complement D.J. Moore at the No. 9 pick, Barkley would certainly solidify a newly weaponized Bear offense. 

Chicago seems more committed to the run having drafted seven offensive linemen in the last three drafts.  Saquon would undoubtedly add an explosive element to their offense that they lacked last year with Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson.  If the Bears do draft a quarterback with the first pick overall they’ll only have to pay him on a rookie contract.


The Chargers right now are $19 million over the cap  but count on new head coach Jim Harbaugh to find a way to make it work.  It’s no secret that the former Michigan icon has a propensity for a run-heavy offense.  Captain Comeback is reuniting with new offensive coordinator Greg Roman who was his offensive coordinator when the two teamed up to coach the 49ers to within a few yards of winning the Super Bowl back in 2012. 

Barkley was asked on “Up & Adams” recently about the possibility of linking up with Harbaugh and said he “definitely wouldn’t be against it.”

I wouldn’t be either if I had Justin Herbert as my quarterback.

4. New England Patriots

The Patriots lack-luster offensive weaponry screams for an elite component.  Head Coach Jerod Mayo is going to need to clean up the lack of talent mess that Bill Belichick left in his stead. 

With New England most likely set to take a quarterback with the 3rd pick in April’s draft,  Barkley seems like a reasonable asset to acquire considering the Pats have more than $88 million in cap space and could use some reinforcements in the passing game to help out a rookie on the first year of his contract.

5. Philadelphia Eagles

Sorry Birds fans but don’t get your hopes up. 

Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman doesn’t believe in overpaying for a one running back system.  In case you haven’t been watching, sans the last seven games of last season, the Eagles have been one of NFL’s elite rushing teams dating back to the 2005 Super Bowl days of Duce Staley, Corell Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook. 

They won a Super Bowl with the three headed monster of Lagarrette Blount, Jay Ajai and Corey Clement in 2018 and two seasons ago made it to another title game with the triumvirate of Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott.  With their feature back of last season, D’Andre Swift, set to hit the open market in a few days they will be looking for a semi-lead man. I wouldn’t rule it out but I’d say it’s a long shot to see Saquon Barkley in Eagle green next year.

MORE: Is Saquon Barkley About to Reach NFL Potential in 2024?

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Joe Staszak
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